I won’t deny that the journey to Australia is long. With the distance between us and our nearest neighbour, New Zealand, totalling 3 hours, Asia 6 hours and the rest of the world beyond; I’m often awed that people travel so far to see our big-little island-continent.
With big distances often come big costs, but could flying to Australia become more affordable soon?
In recent months, and continuing well through next year, airlines are flocking to set up new routes to Australia or add extra flights on popular routes. Many of which will be through Asia.
Also, there’s a surge in Asian airlines, particularly from China, bringing new routes to Australia, and with competition comes competitive pricing.
Aussies, get your passports ready because you’re going to want to head off on an adventure, and foreign friends, come pay us a visit. The weather’s great and we’re sure there’s going to be a ticket to match everyone’s budget!
New routes to Australia
This is by no means a complete list, but they are the routes and new airlines which I think will tickle quite a few travellers fancy.
Singapore Airlines | Singapore to Canberra
It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year today, Thursday, September 21, since Singapore Airlines touched down in Canberra, making history as the first regularly scheduled international airline to fly to the Australian capital!
Nicknamed the ‘Capital Express’, because it flies from Singapore to Canberra and then onto Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, I’ve included this route into my round-up because it’s both new and an under-appreciated route.
Not only is Canberra beautiful with plenty of places to eat, hike and explore, it’s in a great location. With the city being a short 40-minute flight to Sydney or 1 hour to Melbourne, it’s a city that you can easily fly in or fly out of. Oh, and believe me, the immigration lines won’t nearly be half as long as in Melbourne or Sydney!
Another big draw for the Singapore based carrier is the stylish new Premium Economy cabin, as well as the ability to ‘Book the Cook’, pre-ordering a from a wide range of meals as opposed to the two to three options on board, available to Premium Economy, Business, and First passengers.
Virgin Australia | Hong Kong to Melbourne
Using their Airbus A330-200, featuring the award-winning ‘The Business‘ Business Class, flying to Hong Kong has become even more fabulous now Virgin Australia launching 5 return weekly services!
One point of difference Virgin has made is by forming an alliance with Hong Kong Airlines and HK Express which allows passengers to easily connect onto flights to Mainland China with ease, or flights from alliance members connecting with Virgin to Australia and it’s trans-tasman destinations.
Other members of the alliance include Hainan Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines.
Virgin Australia has made it known that they are hoping to add flights from Sydney and Brisbane to Hong Kong in 2018 and expand their network into Mainland China soon after.
Jetstar Australia | Ho Chi Minh City to Melbourne + Sydney
Savvy travellers, say hello to Vietnam! Jetstar Australia launched direct flights from Melbourne and Sydney in May onboard their sleek Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Operating four times weekly from Sydney and three times weekly from Melbourne, Vietnam has been a country on many travellers bucket list with its rich culture, beaches and – of course – pho!
From Ho Chi Minh City, Jetstar Pacific connects travellers to 15 other destinations within Vietnam offering the same low prices.
Jin Air | Seoul to Cairns
Korean low-cost carrier Jin Air will again be offering non-stop flights between Seoul (Incheon) and Cairns, North Queensland in 2017!
Between December 2017 and January 2018, the airline will be flying 12 flights using their Boeing 777-200ERs, a slight reduction from the 16 seasonal flights last year during a slightly longer period.
Currently, the only other airlines operating to Australia from Seoul are Korean Air who flies to Brisbane and Sydney, while Asiana serves Sydney.
Air Canada | Vancouver, Canada to Melbourne
Another seasonal service for ski bunnies, sun seekers or culture vultures (was that enough cliches?), Air Canada has announced they will be running a direct flight from Vancouver to Melbourne from December 3 until February 4, 2018.
Running four flights a week on their Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, the Star Alliance carrier can also use the seasonal run to gauge if they will begin daily flights to Melbourne. Currently, the airline is flying daily from Vancouver to Sydney and Brisbane.
Qantas | Perth to London
A real win for the Western Australian capital, Qantas is planning to launch non-stop flights from Australia to London next year. With tickets already on sale, the first flight is currently set to take off on March 24, 2018.
Flying the 787-900 Dreamliner, the 14,498-kilometre – or 17 hour flight time – service will be the first regular passenger service to link directly between Australia and Europe.
Melbourne passengers also win as the airline has announced that the flight to London, QF9/10, will originate in Melbourne. Melbourne passengers can board the Dreamliner before a short 90-minute transit stop in Perth.
Read next: Tips to Save Money in London
Qantas | Melbourne to San Francisco
With their incoming Dreamliners, Qantas is going to be adding to their long-haul routes and Melbourne is going to be a big winner as the base of at least two of these beautiful aircrafts!
Qantas has announced that they will be adding a direct flight from Melbourne to San Francisco commencing September 1, 2018 using a Boeing 787-9, complimenting the 13 direct flights to LA each week they already offer.
So, who else is California dreaming?
Hainan Airlines | Shenzhen to Brisbane + Cairns
Today was a special day for Hainan Airlines who landed for the first time in Brisbane!
The twice-weekly flights from Shenzhen, a city in southern China, will be onboard Airbus A330-200 will be a great alternative for those wanting to fly to Mainland China or Hong Kong – Shenzhen sits directly over the border from Hong Kong with MRT (trains) running from the Hong Kong-side of the border into Downtown Hong Kong.
Having partnered with Virgin Australia means travellers flying Hainan Airlines to be able to connect onward with ease to dozens of destinations around Australia.
Currently, the airline serves Melbourne and Sydney from Changsha and Xian (both in central China); from December, Hainan Airlines are set to launch flights to Cairns twice weekly in a huge economic boost to Tropical North Queensland.
Long summer nights at Henley Beach, one of Adelaide’s best beaches!
China Southern | Guangzhou to Adelaide + Cairns
With the arrival of China Southern, the first airline flying direct from Mainland China into the South Australian capital, last December, the airline was keen to expand routes and its said that Queensland is next.
A three-year agreement has just been signed to allow China Southern to fly direct flights from Guangzhou to Cairns, in Tropical North Queensland, from December.
Currently, China Southern flies 5 direct flights weekly from Adelaide using their A33B and the plan to operate 3 weekly flights from Cairns using their Airbus A330-300 aircraft.
It’s a huge win for these two cities who usually have to connect through one of the larger cities on Australia’s east coast when flying to China.
Read next: How to book China Eastern flights using Qantas Points (via. Australia Business Traveller)
Beijing Capital | Shenyang via. Qingdao to Melbourne
Beijing Capital is one of the latest carriers to begin flying to Australia on their new Shenyang-Qingdao-Melbourne route.
The first route for Beijing Capital to the southern hemisphere, the airline will be flying three times a week using an Airbus A330.
Both of these cities are in the northeast region of China, north of the Chinese capital of Beijing. While these cities are lesser known regions of China, Qingdao is renown as the place of popular Tsingtao beer. Both of these cities are heavy industry cities, particularly for white goods, electronics, and software.
I can imagine a few confused faces at this routing, but it’s actually quite simple. These flights will operate in a similar manner to Qantas’ flights from Melbourne to New York (JFK), with a 1-hour stopover in Los Angeles. In this case, there will be a 90-minute stopover in Qingdao for those connecting to Shenyang when inbound or to Melbourne when travelling outbound.
Air China | Chengdu to Sydney
Air China has aggressively expanded into Australia over the past 12-months with the launch of a Chengdu to Sydney route last November, to complement existing flights to Sydney from Beijing and Shanghai.
The third intercontinental flight originating in Chengdu for the Star Alliance member, the flight from Chengdu to Sydney will operate three times a week using an Airbus A330-200.
So, why Chengdu? It’s home to a large portion of China’s finance industry and branches of hundreds of Fortune 500 companies. On top of that, tourists seem to be flocking to the city, most famous as the home of Giant Pandas!
They’re also set to expand further Beijing to Brisbane route later in 2017 (discussed below).
Air China tested out a Shenzhen to Melbourne flight earlier this year, however, cancelled the route after only 6-weeks citing aircraft capacity adjustments.
Qantas | Osaka, Japan to Sydney
I was stoked to see that Qantas has added seasonal flights to Osaka, Japan’s food capital!
Starting December 14, 2017, and running until late March 2018, Qantas be running three direct flights per week on their newly upgraded two-class Airbus A330, featuring the airlines new Business Suites.
This route to Osaka compliments the daily flights between Tokyo (Narita) and Melbourne that launched in late 2016.
If you haven’t decided on plans for the holidays, why not go to Osaka?! The city not only is home to great food, nightlife and incredible history but is the home to Universal Studios Osaka, which has a Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
Osaka is a short bullet train away from historic Kyoto, Hiroshima and just a bullet train away for futuristic Tokyo.
Read next: 72 hours in Osaka
Japan Airlines | Tokyo to Melbourne
Demand for flights to Japan have surged in the last 24-months and Japan Airlines has expanded its service to Melbourne!
The daily direct flight began on September 1st between Tokyo (Narita) and Melbourne, only JAL’s second Australian destination, after success in their Sydney route.
Onboard the OneWorld members are said to have the most comfortable seating arrangements when flying to Japan. Their 88 seat economy cabin is the most spacious Dreamliner seating with a 2-3-2 configuration. Up the pointy end, JAL Sky Suite Business class takes up more than half the plane, with 38 suites onboard, and 35 passengers in their Sky Premium Premium Economy.
Qatar Airways | Doha to Canberra
Qatar Airways has made some big moves in Australia in 2017, including launching the first Airbus A350 to Australia and adding a route to Adelaide, South Australia.
One of the most interesting moves was the inclusion of Canberra, ACT – Australia’s capital – on their list of cities which they seek to expand into in 2018.
As Canberra has only just welcomed their first International flight earlier this year with Singapore Airlines, the addition will provide a huge boost to the city economically, and give Qatar the chance to add an additional flight to Sydney, via. Canberra where they currently run daily flights.
Read next: The Coolest Boutique Hotels in Canberra
Other routes to consider
Scoot | Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth to Singapore
Scoot is not a newcomer to Australia, having flown from its Singapore base to Australia since 2012, but it is certainly an airline making waves this year.
In 2017, Singapore Airlines-owned Scoot merged with Tigerair Asia giving a huge boost its medium- and long-haul routes through Asia. Only a few weeks later it began flying to Athens, Greece.
For budget-savvy travellers, being able to fly to Europe from Singapore for around AU$450 (or less when on sale) one-way is a bargain, especially considering Scoot use new Boeing 787 Dreamliners fitted with the latest technology, including WiFi!
If Greece isn’t calling you, Scoot has plans to add a new service to Honolulu, USA by the end of 2017.
Read more: Flying Scoot’s ScootBiz
Qantas | Sydney to Beijing
In January, Qantas resumed its daily nonstop service to Beijing. Operated on an Airbus A330-200, Qantas said that the growth of the Chinese market and commercial boost gained following the two countries new free trade agreement has made it an easy decision to resume flights on one of the biggest flight routes from Sydney.
This route compliments Qantas’ other direct flights to Shanghai and Hong Kong.
China Eastern | Shanghai to Brisbane
Along with its Guangzhao to Adelaide and Cairns routes, China Eastern is expanding its Shanghai to Brisbane service with three additional flights a week, making it a direct daily experience.
For Qantas Frequent Flyer’s, this route is a real winner as China Eastern is the flying roo’s partner in Mainland China, and members can earn and spend Qantas Points on their routes. Just FYI, you can only book these routes by phone and not through the Qantas website.
Air China | Beijing to Brisbane
Brisbane will be welcoming nonstop flights to China from December 11 when Air China commences flights from Beijing to the Queensland capital.
Air China is expected to operate four flights a week between the Chinese capital and Brisbane using an Airbus A330-200.
Brisbane will be the Star Alliance members third destination in Australia. Currently, Air China flies from Melbourne to Beijing and Shanghai, as well as from Sydney to Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai.
Turkish Airlines | Istanbul to Sydney, Melbourne
Yesterday, Turkish Airlines has said it will extend its flight network to Sydney, Australia in 2018 and Melbourne soon after.
Arguably one of the most aggressively expanding European airlines, Turkish Airlines has 40 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners on order, with some of these aircraft set to be earmarked for Australia.
Turkish Airlines has said they hoped to fly to Australia before. Plans to fly to Sydney in 2016, with a stopover in Singapore, Bangkok, or Jakarta en route, were ultimately scrapped. A direct flight from Istanbul to Sydney would take some 17 hours, making it one of the longest flights in the world.
Though the CEO Temel Kotil has said a number of times since that he is keen to see Turkish Airlines flying to Australia soon. Hopefully, 2018 will be that year!
Qantas | From Australia to the world
Of all the aviation news I’ve read, I’m most excited by where Qantas is heading in the coming years.
Australia’s national carrier has announced its intention to launch non-stop flights from Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne to London and New York by 2022, if Boeing and Airbus can deliver planes capable of flying these distances. Currently, no aircraft flying today can cover these distances.
Qantas is also eyeing up non-stop routes to Paris and Rio de Janeiro, pending if these aircraft can be made.
Here’s hoping Boeing and Airbus are up for the challenge!