Connecting Australia’s coffee capital with China’s capital of tea

Melbourne Airport’s Chinese market recovery is gaining pace with the announcement that Beijing Capital Airlines will commence flights between Melbourne and Hangzhou in June.  

The service will operate three times per week using an Airbus A330, in addition to the airline’s existing Qingdao service. 

Hangzhou will become the eighth non-stop destination in mainland China to be served from Melbourne, with the additional flights taking capacity in the Chinese market back to 91% of pre-pandemic levels. 

ln 2024 Melbourne Airport has set new monthly records for international passengers in both February and March, but Chinese passenger numbers continue to lag, with the number of Chinese passport holders travelling to Victoria at just 62% of pre-pandemic levels. 

Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus said the extra capacity would increase opportunities for Victoria’s tourism, education and agriculture sectors. 

“Hangzhou is home to around 11 million people, which is twice the size of Melbourne and is known as the tea capital of China,” she said. 

“Mainland Chinese travellers have traditionally been one of the highest spending markets however the slow return of group travel continues to impact visitation numbers. 

“Last year Chinese tourists spent a total of $5.8 billion in Australia, but that’s just 56% of what they spent here in 2019. 

“It’s estimated that an average daily international flight is worth around $154 million to the Victorian economy, so we know these flights will help fill our restaurants, support our shops, and give our farmers access to millions more consumers. 

“China is Victoria’s largest two-way trading partner and the number one buyer of Victorian goods with sales topping $6 billion last financial year.” 

“Australia’s Open Skies policy with China gives airlines the future certainty they need to make investments in Australia, this important new connection into mainland China will help boost trade, tourism and international student growth.