The re-launch of Hainan’s twice weekly service between Melbourne and Changsha via Haikou marks the return of seven of the eight mainland Chinese carriers that operated out of Melbourne in 2019.
Operated by an Airbus A330, the extra flights will increase weekly capacity between Victoria and China by over 1200 seats and add valuable extra cargo space for exporters of Victorian fresh produce.
With more than ten million residents, Changsha is the 17th most populous city in China, while Haikou is home to more than two million people.
Melbourne Airport’s Chief of Aviation Jim Parashos said Hainan’s decision to return to Melbourne was a significant step in the recovery of the Chinese market.
“Before the onset of Covid-19 the Chinese market was Victoria’s biggest inbound market and the resumption of Hainan Airlines services will help rebuild our tourism and education sectors,” he said.
“One of the current barriers to a full recovery is the lack of group travel from China but we are hopeful of a resumption in the coming months, so the additional capacity that Hainan brings will be essential for the inevitable future growth in the demand.
“Less than six months after China’s border reopened, Chinese passport holders now represent the third largest group of foreign travellers at Melbourne Airport, behind only New Zealand and India.
“To maximise Victoria’s recovery we have been working hard to build up other international markets, and reflecting that, last month the number of Indian passengers was up 125% on the same time in 2019.”
Hainan Airlines joins Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines in offering direct flights from Melbourne to mainland China.