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Sichuan Airlines starts Melbourne-Chengdu flights this month

By John Walton     Filed under: Melbourne, China, Sichuan Airlines, Chengdu

Nonstop flights between Melbourne and Chengdu begin later this month on Sichuan Airlines, marking the first direct flights between Australia and China's booming west.

Melbourne-Chengdu flights will start on 28 February, running three times a week on board an Airbus A330-200 aircraft. In business class, you'll find standard angled lie-flat seats in a 2-2-2 layout, with economy in the usual 2-4-2 configuration.

Sichuan Airlines spokesman Tony Qu confirmed seat details to Australian Business Traveller: the 36 seats are 20 inches (51 cm) wide, with a roomy 74" (188cm) pitch, converting to an angled lie-flat seat.

Flight 3U 601 will leave Chengdu on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays at a 0030, arriving in Melbourne at 1410. Return flight 3U 602 will leave at 1610, arriving back in Chengdu at a 0030. The total flight time is scheduled for ten hours and forty minutes in each direction.

Melbourne Airport CEO Chris Woodruff is certainly keen on his airport's new service, saying: “This is a very exciting milestone in the development of closer business, education and tourism links between Victoria and Sichuan Province which is home to more than 80 million people and the gateway to a region which accounts for a growing share of China’s trade, foreign investment and economic growth.”

Chengdu is one of "China's 13 megalopolises" according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, and one of the Chinese Government's key growth areas.

On the Chinese scale, Sichuan Airlines is a medium-sized player: certainly not one of the Big Four Chinese airlines. It's affiliated with and partly owned by China Southern, the Guangzhou-based airline that flies extensively to Australia and offers the Canton Route to Europe.

Sichuan Airlines could also be angling for a piece of the Kangaroo Route pie for flights to Europe, with flights to Amsterdam, London, Vienna and Paris mooted in a report from the Centre for Aviation last year. 

For more on China's airlines and everything else you need to know about business travel, follow us on Twitter: we're @AusBT.


About John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 5/2/13 by MartinS

03:30 departure and arrival times in Chengdu would be commercial suicide for the route, particular for the Chinese outbound market. The Chinese don't like really early/late flights.

Are you sure those times are correct? They don't fit with the 10 hour 40 minute flight time. Perhaps its a more reasonable 00:30 departure time from Chengdu.

1 on 5/2/13 by chris_melbourne

I agree Martin. It must be 00:30 departure. 10h40m flight time would mean 14:10 arr in MEL (MEL having +3hr time difference)

2 on 5/2/13 by John

That's the information confirmed by Sichuan Airlines — see collateral — but I've asked them to double-check that something hasn't been lost in translation. Having lived in China, I agree with you about early/late flights — I always used to love them because they were so empty. I'll make sure to update you when I hear back from 3U.

3 on 5/2/13 by John

An update, Martin & Chris — Sichuan Airlines for some reason quoted times in Melbourne time rather than the usual local time at takeoff/landing. Apologies for the inadvertent confusion.

2 on 5/2/13 by MartinS

Thanks for the update John.

Sichuan Airlines have been flying internationally for awhile now, so you'd think they would got to grip with time zones by now :)


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