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Australia’s Qantas pauses ‘half-full’ Sydney-Shanghai flights 9 months after post-pandemic restart

“Since Covid, 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,” Qantas International CEO Cam Wallace said.

Qantas aircraft on the Shanghai route will be redirected to other destinations across Asia with higher demand or new tourism opportunities, the company said.

Qantas will continue to monitor the Australia-China market closely and return to Shanghai when demand has recovered, the carrier added.

“Since borders reopened, Chinese visitors have been slow to return to Australia, despite aviation capacity increasing,” 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 in March at just 47 per cent of the pre-pandemic levels seen in March 2019. Before the pandemic, China was Australia’s top tourism market.

China’s aviation regulator has said it expects international flights to return to 80 per cent of pre-Covid levels by the end of 2024.


Bridge in China swamped with tourists during Lunar New Year holiday

China’s domestic flight capacity recovered faster, surging past 2019 levels in early 2023 soon after the country lifted travel restrictions.

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