Qantas has announced it will suspend flights from Sydney to Beijing in March 2020, and will serve its route “indirectly through partner airlines”.

Currently, Qantas flies between Sydney and Beijing five times weekly using an Airbus A330 aircraft. The airline says this route is “not commercially viable due to excess market capacity and weak demand for Business Class on flights between the two cities”.

This is not the first time Qantas has decided to cut this route. The Australian flag carrier first flew between the two cities between 1984 and 1987, before operating this route again from 2006 to 2009. Then in 2017, Qantas reintroduced this non-stop service. It was a daily service at the beginning, before the airline reduced the frequency to five times per week from October 2018.

However, the airline said that the overall competitor capacity between Beijing and Australia has increased by around 20 per cent and is expected to grow even further in 2020. It added that this is “in contrast to broader international capacity out of Australia, which is declining”.

“Our flights to Beijing have been underperforming for some time due to weaker demand as well as a big increase in capacity from other airlines,” says Tino La Spina, Qantas International CEO.

In contrast, Qantas says its daily flights between Sydney and Shanghai continue to perform well and there are no changes to this schedule.

“China is a significant market for Qantas and our direct services from and to Shanghai are performing well. With Beijing, we’re responding to what the market is telling us.

“We’ve got a strong partnership with China Eastern, so Qantas customers will be able to travel with them between Australia and Beijing and be rewarded as they would when flying with us,” he added.

China Eastern is Qantas’ codeshare partner. Qantas customers can fly on China Eastern flights from Sydney to Beijing via Nanjing and Hangzhou. Below is China Eastern’s flight schedule:

Flight No. Departs Time Stopover Time Arrives Days
MU712 Sydney (SYD) 1245-2000 Hangzhou (HGH) 2130-2345 Beijing (PEK) Wed, Fri, Sun
MU711 Beijing (PEK) 1650-1925 Hangzhou (HGH) 2115-1115 (+1) Sydney (SYD) Tue, Thu, Sat
MU792 Sydney (SYD) 1130-1930 Nanjing (NKG) 2130-2330 Beijing (PEK) Tue, Thu, Sat
MU791 Beijing (PEK) 1545-1745 Nanjing (NKG) 1930-0930 (+1) Sydney (SYD) Mon, Wed, Fri

Alternatively, China’s flag carrier Air China operates daily non-stop flights between Sydney and Beijing using a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft:

Flight No. From To Departs Arrives Days
CA174 Sydney (SYD) Beijing (PEK) 2040 0440 (+1) Daily
CA173 Beijing (PEK) Sydney (SYD) 0140 1530

China Eastern also operates flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Shanghai, and from Sydney to Kunming and Wuhan. Beyond Shanghai, Qantas customers also have access to 19 China Eastern codeshare destinations within Greater China, including Beijing, Chengdu, Dalian, Fuzhou, Harbin, Kunming, Qingdao, Shenyang and Xian.

Customers can also connect to Beijing and other destinations in China out of Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon.

Qantas’ subsidiary company Jetstar Group’s airlines based in Asia also fly to nine destinations in China.

Qantas said it will redeploy the aircraft used on the current Beijing route to other existing destinations in Asia, and customers booked to travel on the route beyond March 2020 will be contacted directly and re-accommodated on alternative services or offered a refund or fare credit.

In other news, the Australian flag carrier has recently announced its goal to cut carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.