Qantas Suspends Shanghai Route, Launches New Flights to Asia

Qantas Airways suspends its Sydney to Shanghai route from July 28, 2024, due to low demand. The airline will redirect aircraft to introduce new routes and boost flights to popular destinations in Asia, including Manila, Singapore, and Bengaluru.

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Bijay Laxmi
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Qantas Suspends Shanghai Route, Launches New Flights to Asia

Qantas Suspends Shanghai Route, Launches New Flights to Asia

Qantas Airways has announced significant changes to its Asia network, with the suspension of its Sydney to Shanghai route from July 28, 2024, due to low demand. The airline will redirect aircraft to introduce new routes and boost flights to popular destinations across Asia, including Manila, Singapore, and Bengaluru.

Qantas International CEO Cam Wallace stated, "Since COVID, the demand for travel between Australia and China has not recovered as strongly as expected. In some months, our flights to and from Shanghai have been operating around half full." Despite resuming the Sydney-Shanghai service in October 2023 after a pandemic-related pause, the route has struggled to attract sufficient passenger numbers.

Why this matters: The suspension of the Sydney-Shanghai route highlights the ongoing challenges faced by the aviation industry in the post-pandemic era, particularly in terms of adjusting to shifting travel demand patterns. As airlines adapt to these changes, their decisions can have significant implications for local economies and tourism industries that rely on international travel.

To compensate for the suspended route, Qantas will launch a new international service from Brisbane to Manila starting October 28, 2024. The route will operate four days a week using Airbus A330 aircraft, marking the first time the airline has flown between the two cities in over a decade. This addition is expected to add more than 100,000 seats annually between Australia and the Philippines.

Furthermore, Qantas will increase flights to Singapore by approximately 10%, offering over 2,500 additional seats per week between Australia and the Lion City. The Sydney to Singapore route will see an increase from 14 to 17 return flights per week starting December 11, 2024, while the Brisbane to Singapore route will rise from 7 to 9 return flights per week from October 27, 2024.

The Sydney to Bengaluru route will also see an increase from five flights per week to daily services during the peak holiday season between mid-December 2024 and late March 2025. This boost will add over 12,000 seats between the two cities during the four-month period, catering to the strong demand for travel to India.

Cam Wallace emphasized that these network adjustments are designed to "ensure that we have the right aircraft, on the right routes and at the right time of year to best meet the needs of our customers." He highlighted the new opportunities these changes bring, stating that they "will create more choice for our corporate and leisure customers and make it even easier for them to access the places they need to travel to in Asia."

Customers booked on Shanghai flights from July 28, 2024, will be contacted and offered a full refund or the option to rebook on alternative flights. Qantas will continue to maintain a presence in China through its partners and existing flights to Hong Kong, with plans to return to Shanghai once demand rebounds.

The suspension of the Sydney-Shanghai route comes amid a slow recovery in Australia's international travel sector following extensive border closures, high inflation, and logistical challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A shortage of Chinese arrivals since 2020 has weighed on tourism in recent years, with only 102,000 Chinese holidaymakers visiting Australia in September 2023 compared to 688,000 in the same month four years earlier.

However, with China reopening its economy and reinstating inbound and outbound tourism, there is an expected pick-up in Chinese arrivals in the coming months. Trip.com reports that Chinese tourism to Southeast Asia has seen a 30% increase in the first quarter of 2024 compared to 2019 levels, signaling a potential rebound in travel demand.

Qantas' strategic network changes reflect the airline's efforts to optimize its resources and adapt to the evolving market conditions in the Asia-Pacific region. By suspending the underperforming Shanghai route and introducing new services to high-demand destinations, the carrier aims to position itself for growth and better serve the needs of its customers in the post-pandemic travel landscape.

Key Takeaways

  • Qantas suspends Sydney-Shanghai route from July 28, 2024, due to low demand.
  • New Brisbane-Manila route launching October 28, 2024, with 4 weekly flights.
  • Qantas increases Singapore flights by 10%, adding 2,500 weekly seats.
  • Sydney-Bengaluru route upgraded to daily services during peak holiday season.
  • Changes aim to optimize resources and meet shifting customer demand in Asia.