Celebrations were held at Melbourne Airport on 17 December to welcome the inaugural Xiamen Airlines flight from Hangzhou, which departed China the previous evening. Among those cutting the ceremonial ribbon to mark Melbourne’s latest connection to mainland China were Lyell Strambi (centre), MD and CEO Melbourne Airport. The 7,958-kilometre sector will operate twice-weekly (Thursdays and Sundays).
- Xiamen Airlines launched a direct connection between Hangzhou (HGH) and Melbourne (MEL) on 16 December. The 7,958-kilometre sector will be flown by the carrier twice-weekly, departing Hangzhou on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with return services leaving Melbourne on Thursdays and Sundays. Xiamen Airlines will operate the route with its 787-8s, with no direct competition being provided. The new service originates and terminates in Xiamen, operating via Hangzhou in each direction. The carrier already offers a direct three times weekly connection between Xiamen and Melbourne, with the Hangzhou link becoming the fourth airport pair it will operate between mainland China and Australia during W17/18, with the others being Xiamen–Sydney and Fuzhou–Sydney. Xiamen Airlines’ Hangzhou services will be Melbourne Airport’s 12th destination in mainland China. “We are delighted with Xiamen Airlines’ decision to expand into Hangzhou, the city that’s home to internet giant Alibaba and where third-party mobile and online payment system Alipay was established,” said Simon Gandy, Chief of Aviation, Melbourne Airport. “The region is viewed as one of China’s most prominent tech hubs, and last year was host city to the G20 summit.” Gandy also emphasised the growth in Chinese tourism that Melbourne has witnessed. “Over the past three years we’ve seen China take the lead as our largest international tourism market and, further, over the past ten years passenger traffic from China has increased, on average, by just under 16% each year.”