Qantas Re-starts its Sydney – Beijing Route….But With Old-Style Cabins

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Qantas has announced that following a near 8-year hiatus it will be resuming flights between Sydney and Beijing from early next year. The airline last flew to Beijing back in 2009 when it decided that the economics of the route no longer worked (not too surprising considering the state of the world economy back then) but it’s not exactly re-starting the route in style.

Qantas’ Sydney – Beijing Route

From 25 January 2017 Qantas will operate a daily service between Sydney and Beijing using its A330-200 aircraft on the following schedule:

QF107 SYD 13:50 – 22:40 PEK (Daily)
QF108 PEK 00:15 – 14:55 SYD (Mon, Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat)
QF108 PEK 00:20 – 14:55 SYD (Thu & Sun)

Qantas says the route is timed to connect with its domestic and trans-Tasman network…so I guess that explains the afternoon departure from Sydney and the mid-afternoon arrival back in.

While I’m not crazy about the timings at least the departure times from Beijing will give travelers a full work day on the day of departure and the arrival time into Beijing gives time for a night’s sleep before work the next day.

Qantas Group Chief Executive Alan Joyce had this to say when relaunching the route (emphasis is mine):

The tourism industry in Australia is very excited about what the Chinese market will deliver over the next few years, especially given it’s already become our second biggest source of visitors after New Zealand

Australia is now at the top of the wish list for Chinese travellers thinking about where they want to go next. There are 21 million people in Beijing alone and from the start of next year they will be just one Qantas flight away. The potential is tremendous.

We’re seeing strong loads on our existing Shanghai and Hong Kong services, and on this new Beijing route we’ll have the advantage of China Eastern marketing the Qantas flight as part of their own network.

We’ll be ramping up the work we’re already doing with the state tourism bodies and Tourism Australia on marketing campaigns in China to make sure we make the most of this potential. Our pitch is that if you want to experience the best of Australia, your trip should start with the national carrier.

The business travel market is another key focus for this route, particularly off the back of the free trade agreement with China, which is increasing the amount of freight we’re carrying.

The two phrases I’ve highlighted are interesting when taken in the context of the aircraft Qantas has decided to employ on this route – its last two un-refurbished Airbus A330-200s. [HT: Australian Business Traveller]

 Qantas’ Old A330-200s

If Qantas really wants Chinese travelers to “experience the best of Australia” and if the “Business travel market is another key focus” then you have to ask why Qantas is employing aircraft with very outdated cabins?

Not only is the Business Class cabin in a 2-2-2 layout meaning no all-aisle-access for passengers…..


…..but the seats aren’t even lie-flat. They’re angled flat seats that date back well over a decade.

While most of the Qantas A330 family of aircraft has been refurbished with the new “Business Suites”….

qantas-a330-business-suiteImage – Qantas

….the A330-200 flying to/from Beijing will only have the old Qantas “skybed” seat which can’t lie flat:

qantas_business_skybedImage – wikicommons

If anyone has any insight into why Qantas is employing these particular 2 aircraft on this route please get in touch and let me know – I’m genuinely interested.

Qantas – China Eastern Codeshare Partnership

Per Qantas:

The new Beijing-Sydney service is part of the expansion of Qantas’ joint venture partnership with China Eastern which will also see three international codeshare routes between Australia and China being added under their strengthened agreement: Sydney-Hangzhou, Sydney-Kunming and Brisbane-Shanghai. China Eastern will codeshare on Qantas’ new Beijing service.

As part of the Qantas – Chain Eastern agreement, Qantas’ Platinum and Gold members will be allowed to use to China Eastern lounges throughout China when flying on China Eastern, as well as China Eastern’s international lounges when flying between China and Australia….although, as Qantas is a oneworld airline, the Cathay Pacific lounge in Beijing is an option too when flying Qantas internationally.

Bottom Line

Another new route for oneworld flyers is always good news….but I’m not in any hurry to try this one out while the Business Class cabin on offer remains antiquated.

There is a tiny thought at the back of my mind that’s wondering if Qantas will schedule its new Dreamliners on this route when they start being delivered but, apart from the fact that I think its more likely to use the new aircraft on routes to the US, I think the A330’s cargo capacity is key to the airline making this route profitable….so that probably rules out that option.

Anyone planning on flying the new route any time soon?


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