Australia’s Qantas suspends flights to Shanghai due to low demand

Qantas Airways said on Tuesday it will suspend flights to Shanghai from July 28, citing low demand, nine months after the Australian carrier resumed service from Sydney in hopes of a post-pandemic travel recovery.

International flights to and from China are at around 70% of pre-pandemic levels and are recovering more slowly than other markets due to fewer tourists and a domestic economic slowdown. “Since COVID, demand for travel between Australia and China has not recovered as strongly as expected. In just a few months, our flights to and from Shanghai were about half full,” said Cam Wallace, CEO of Qantas International.

Qantas planes on the Shanghai route will be diverted to other destinations in Asia with higher demand or new tourism opportunities, the company said. Qantas will continue to closely monitor the Australian-Chinese market and return to Shanghai when demand has recovered, the airline added.

“Since borders reopened, Chinese visitors have been slow to return to Australia, despite increases in aviation capacity,” said Margy Osmond, CEO of industry group Tourism & Transport Forum Australia. She said arrivals from China, now the fourth largest source of international visitors to Australia, were just 47% of pre-pandemic levels in March 2019. Before COVID-19, China was Australia’s top tourism market.

Qantas still flies to Hong Kong from Sydney and Melbourne and has partnerships with other airlines for onward travel within China. The airline announced a new route from Brisbane to Manila at the end of October, as well as additional flights to Singapore. It will also increase the flight frequency from Sydney to Bengaluru.

China’s aviation regulator has said it expects international flights to return to 80% of pre-coronavirus levels by the end of 2024. China’s domestic flight capacity recovered more quickly, rising above 2019 levels in early 2023, shortly after the country lifted travel restrictions.

Flights between the US and China have seen the slowest recovery but are increasing, with services at 16.5% of pre-pandemic levels, the International Air Transport Association said this month.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)