The flying kangaroo had recommenced flights from Sydney to Beijing in March 2017 as QF107/QF108, following an 8-year hiatus from the route. But the route has been underperforming for some time. Qantas initially responded by cutting service back from daily to 5x weekly last year, but this wasn’t enough to return the Sydney-Beijing route to profitability.
The Airbus A330 currently used for Sydney-Beijing services will be redeployed to other Qantas destinations in Asia.
This is the third time that Qantas has commenced and then cancelled flights to Beijing, a city of more than 20 million people and the capital city of a key Australian trading partner. Qantas says that the route didn’t work out this time because of increased capacity and competition from Chinese carriers, as well as a lack of Business Class demand.
Due to the late arrival of QF107 into Beijing and a lack of Oneworld partner airlines at Beijing Capital Airport, the Qantas flights also offered limited connectivity to other destinations. (Connectivity has been further reduced by the opening of Beijing Daxing Airport, which is now served by partner airlines including British Airways.)
From March 2020, Qantas’ daily Sydney-Shanghai service will be the only flight between Australia and mainland China served by an Australian airline. This follows the announcement that Jetstar will axe its flight from Melbourne to Zhengzhou next month. Yet, there are hundreds of flights every week from Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns and even Darwin to cities all across China, operated by Chinese airlines.
Qantas customers travelling to Beijing have the option to fly via Hong Kong, with onward connections on Cathay Pacific, or with China Eastern. Qantas has an extensive partnership with China Eastern, which flies from Sydney to Beijing via Hangzhou, Nanjing and Shanghai. Alternatively, Star Alliance member Air China continues to serve the Sydney-Beijing route with direct, daily overnight flights.
Qantas had come under fire when it initially re-launched Sydney-Beijing flights in 2017 for using its oldest Business Class product on the route. However, all Qantas A330s had been refurbished with new lie-flat Business seats earlier this year.
Virgin Australia last week announced it will terminate flights from Melbourne to Hong Kong due to weak demand, redeploying an Airbus A330 on the airline’s new Brisbane-Tokyo route instead.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Qantas cancels Beijing flights from March 2020