In late November, when China’s most awarded regional carrier, Xiamen Airlines, commences its five flights per-week service between Sydney and the south-eastern Chinese province of Fujian it will not be competing on price but service.
Xiamen Airlines has been named “Best Quality Service Airline in China” in thirteen consecutive passenger surveys by Civil Aviation Resource Net of China and, the head of the airline’s Australian operation, Mr. Chen Yanghua says it’s a service promise that Xiamen will build on for its international routes.
“Xiamen Airlines already has one of the youngest fleets amongst international carriers and, with the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, we’ve dedicated the most modern and comfortable passenger airliner in the world to our Australian routes,” says Mr. Chen. “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.”
The all Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner service commences on the 30th of November with the inaugural flight arriving in Sydney from Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian. The Sydney-Fuzhou service will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, departing at 12:00hrs arriving in Fuzhou at 18:20hrs.
The Sydney to Xiamen city service begins on the 6th of December, this will be a twice-weekly service with flights on Sundays and Thursdays, departing Sydney at 12:00hrs and arriving in Xiamen city at 18:00hrs.
Currently four Chinse 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 $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. At $7 billion annually, Chinese Tourism is bigger than the wheat export industry and two-and-a-half times the size of Australia’s wool exports.
Mr. Chen Yanghua of Xiamen Airlines says bi-lateral trade was 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.”
Up 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 the 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 A$4,500 and Business Class return seats for A$2,000.
The configuration of the Boeing 787-8 aircraft provides 4 First Class seats (67cm wide and 198cm long fully reclined), 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.