Qantas is to suspend operations between Sydney and Shanghai less than a year after restoring them, as it flags a slower than anticipated recovery in demand. 

The move, effective from 28 July, means Qantas will have no operations from Australia to Mainland China. However, the flag carrier will still operate to Hong Kong, where it says customers can continue their travel to Shanghai and other Chinese points via partner airlines. 


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The Oneworld operator resumed flights to Shanghai in October 2023, after China lifted its onerous ‘zero-Covid’ policy that curtailed international travel demand. It operates five flights a week with Airbus A330-300s. 

Qantas’s head of international operations Cam Wallace adds: “Since Covid-19, 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.” 

The airline is the latest in a string of operators to warn of sluggish demand to and from Mainland China. In recent weeks, airlines including Cebu Pacific and Korean Air said their Mainland Chinese networks were still far from full recovery, even as the rest of their network rebounds – or even surpasses – pre-pandemic levels. 

Sydney airport’s quarterly traffic statistics shows that Chinese arrivals have yet to recover – down almost 18% verses 2019. Melbourne airport, meanwhile, notes that the number of Chinese passport holders travelling to the city was just 62% of pre-pandemic levels. 

However, Qantas’s Wallace does not a rule an eventual return to Mainland China: “We’ll continue to maintain a presence in China through our partners and our existing flights to Hong Kong and look to return to Shanghai in the future.”

In a network update, the Australian carrier will also launch a new route between Brisbane and Manila, which will commence on 28 October. The four weekly flights will be operated with A330s, and marks a return of operations between the two cities after a 10-year hiatus. 

Qantas will also ramp up operations to Singapore – a key city in its Asian network – by adding additional flights to Sydney and Brisbane. 

Sydney will see three additional weekly flights from 11 December, bringing the total number of flights to 17 times a week. Brisbane, which Qantas currently flies daily, will see two additional weekly flights from 27 October. 

The ramp-up will see Qantas’s capacity between Australia and Singapore increase by about 10% by the year-end. 

Qantas will also add two more weekly flights to the Indian city of Bengaluru, bringing its operations there to seven times weekly.