Xiamen Airlines starts flying to Australia at the end of this month, using B787-8 Dreamliners, exclusively, on the route to Sydney. The airline has one of the youngest fleets among international carriers.
Valued at AUD 7 billion annually, Chinese Tourism is bigger for Australia than the wheat export industry and two-and-a-half times the size of Australia’s wool exports. Its importance is not lost on Chen Yanghua, head of Xiamen Airlines’ Australian operation, who is stressing quality of service and trade potential as the airline prepares to launch its new route.
Xiamen Airlines is based in Xiamen (also historically known as Amoy) on the Taiwan Strait. It will mark its Australian debut this month with the launch of non-stop flights between Sydney and Fuzhou and soon after by services between Sydney and Xiamen.
A full-service carrier, Xiamen Airlines will start will start its five flights per-week service between Sydney and the south-eastern Chinese province of Fujian on 30 November 2015.
Xiamen Airlines has won numerous service awards in China and its Australian operation will stress service, not price.
“While our pricing will be competitive, service remains at the core of everything we do. Xiamen Airlines will be the only Chinese carrier to offer First-Class and Business Class seats on all its flights to China,” Chen said yesterday.
The Sydney-Fuzhou service will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, departing at noon and arriving in Fuzhou at 1820 hours. The Sydney to Xiamen city service begins on the 6 December 2015 twice-weekly on Sundays and Thursdays, departing Sydney at noon and arriving in Xiamen city at 1800 hours.
Currently four Chinese carriers (Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Sichuan Airlines) fly directly from Sydney to five different Chinese cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Nanjing and Chongqing). Xiamen will add two more cities and bring around 36,000 more visitors, who’ll spend an estimated AUD 134 million in Australia each year.
In dollar terms, China has for some time been the biggest source of tourism revenue for Australia with one in every five tourist dollars spent in Australia coming from China.
Chen says bilateral trade is a key driver behind the push into Australia.
“The signing of the China Australia Free Trade Agreement was an important milestone for both countries. Many businesses in Fujian province are keen to explore business opportunities in Australia and our first flight to Sydney from Xiamen city will bring with it a major business delegation.”
Until now, travel time between Fujian province and Australia was up to 30 hours, with passengers having to transit in other cities like Hong Kong or Guangzhou.
Xiamen Airlines believes its nine-hour direct flight will provide a great incentive to business travellers from both countries. As a special launch promotion Xiamen Airlines is offering return First Class seats on both Fuzhou and Xiamen city routes at AUD 4500 and Business Class return seats for AUD 2000.
The configuration of the Boeing 787-8 aircraft provides four First Class seats (67cm wide – that’s 26.4 inches – and 198cm long fully reclined, which is 78 inches or 6ft-6 inches), 18 lie-flat Business Class Seats and 214 Economy Class. All seats will come with inflight entertainment screens, 15.4 inch Panasonic eX3 system for First Class, 14-inch screens in Business Class and 9-inch touch screens with noise cancelling headphones and USB ports on Economy Class seats.
Xiamen Airlines is part of the SkyTeam alliance, having become the fourth greater China carrier to do so when it joined in November 2012. In July of this year it commenced its first intercontinental service with six flights to Amsterdam under a code share agreement with KLM – Royal Dutch Airlines.
The only Chinese airline with an all-Boeing fleet, Xiamen Airlines has 145 aircraft with a total of 23,902 seats, and an average airplane service age of 5.42 years, as of October, 2015.
Xiamen Airlines operates more than 220 domestic routes, and almost 53 international and regional routes, for a total of more than 3200 flights each week.
With bases in Xiamen, Fuzhou and Hangzhou, Xiamen Airlines’ flight network covers major cities in China and extends to Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Southeast and Northeast Asia, and Amsterdam in Europe.
Xiamen Airlines is the only Chinese civil airline that has maintained profitability for 28 consecutive years. Over the last year the company generated operating revenue of AUD 4.1 billion and net profit of AUD 272 million.
Edited by Peter Needham