Flying to secondary cities in China: your non-stop options explained

Flying to secondary cities in China: your non-stop options explained

Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are all major destinations for Australian business travellers, yet there’s growing demand for journeys further afield with eight airlines now flying or soon to fly directly between our shores and 11 other cities across mainland China.

Among them, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Xiamen and Xi’an, served by both big-name airlines in Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Jetstar, along with those lesser-known to Aussies including Beijing Capital Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and XiamenAir.

So forget transiting via those ‘big three’ hubs to reach your final destination: here are the other Chinese cities you can jet to directly from Australia, what they offer to visitors and the airlines that can take you there.

Changsha: capital of China’s Hunan province

Centre to China’s aluminium industry, Changsha is home to much machinery manufacturing, but also to large cement, ceramic, rubber and papermaking plants. It too serves as a major port for oil, livestock, rice, tea, tobacco and coal, and as China’s entertainment industry hub.

Hainan Airlines will fly non-stop from Sydney to Changsha twice per week from September 17 2016 using an Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Chengdu: capital of China’s Sichuan province

Firmly footed in the finance industry, Chengdu stands home to branches of over 260 of the globe’s Fortune 500 companies including major technology brands Intel, IBM, Cisco, Microsoft and Motorola, with an urban population in excess of 10 million people.

Star Alliance member Air China plans to fly three times each week between Sydney and Chengdu as of October 30 2016, while Sichuan Airlines currently links Melbourne and the provincial capital three times a week, both routes using Airbus A330 jets.

The colourful Sichuan Airlines crew can brighten even the foggiest Sydney day

Chongqing: municipality in Southwest China

Travellers working in the automotive industry will recognise Chongqing as China’s largest manufacturer of motorbikes and third largest of other motors including those destined for Ford, while flyers in the military will be aware of the city’s weapons research and development bases.

Sichuan Airlines jets between Sydney and Chongqing twice per week, again using the Airbus A330.

Fuzhou: capital of China’s Fujian province

A hive for both industrial chemicals and food processing – fortunately not together – Fuzhou enjoys a seaport on the Min River, strong commercial ties with Taiwan and an ‘Economic & Technological Development Zone’ to attract further manufacturing, warehousing and production.

Using the advanced Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, SkyTeam’s XiamenAir offers Sydneysiders both business class and first class (pictured) en route to Fuzhou three times each week.

Nanjing: capital of China’s Jiangsu province

Relying less on mass manufacturing than other parts of China, roughly 60% of Nanjing’s GDP comes from service disciplines like tourism and financial services, with IT, energy saving, research and intelligent equipment production all key focus areas.

SkyTeam alliance airline China Eastern zips between Sydney and Nanjing three-times-weekly with the popular Airbus A330-200, and although Qantas codeshares with China Eastern to some destinations, journeys purely between these two cities aren’t covered by that deal.

(China Eastern remains a Qantas Frequent Flyer partner, so you can still earn Qantas Points, although not status credits, on travel to Nanjing.)

Qingdao: city in eastern Shandong province

Also Romanised as ‘Tsingtao’, Qingdao is best-known in Australia for its popular Tsingtao beer – but it’s not only alcohol that’s made here. Haier, Hisense and a number of other white good and electronics brands hold headquarters and manufacturing facilities in Qingdao, too.

HNA Group’s Beijing Capital Airlines will fly non-stop between Melbourne and Qingdao from September 30 2016, and as continues the trend, the airline will offer three flights a week aboard an Airbus A330.

Shenyang: capital of China’s Liaoning province

Heavy industry, software, automotive, petroleum and banking are all big business in Shenyang, with the broader Liaoning province majoring in electronics, machinery, petrochemicals and metallurgy.

While not entirely non-stop for Victorians, Beijing Capital Airlines' Melbourne-Qingdao flights will continue onwards to Shenyang under the same flight number when the routes launch in September.

Shenzhen: city in Guangdong province

Just across the border from Hong Kong and connected by rail, Shenzhen benefits from having its own ‘Special Economic Zone’ with tax incentives for foreign investors, while also playing home to local majors like Huawei and China Merchants Bank.

China Southern can take you there from Sydney three times a week aboard an A330-300 offering first class and business class, while Air China has its sights on Melbourne with a new four-times-weekly service from October 31 using the smaller Airbus A330-200, topping out at business class.

AusBT review: Air China Airbus A330 business class

Wuhan: capital of Central China’s Hubei province

At the forefront of Chinese learning with 35 higher education institutions within its boundaries, Wuhan enjoys strong pharmaceutical, optic-electronic, car manufacturing, biology and renewable energy industries in addition to the more traditional iron and steel sectors.

An unlikely airline candidate, Jetstar (Australia) darts to Wuhan twice each week from Queensland’s Gold Coast – about an hour south of Brisbane – using its latest Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft, on which Qantas frequent flyers can earn points and status credits on eligible fares.

Jetstar may be a low-cost airline, but it still offers a business class of sorts...

AusBT review: Jetstar Boeing 787 business class

Xiamen: sub-provincial city in Fujian province

A magnet for business flyers in the financial sectors, Xiamen counts the offices of over 600 financial institutions among its repertoire to rival China’s better-known business hotspot of Shanghai.

That being the case, it makes sense that XiamenAir provides both business class and first class service between Australia and Xiamen, with flights departing both Sydney and Melbourne twice per week using the SkyTeam member’s Boeing 787-8 aircraft.

Xi’an: capital of China’s Shaanxi province

Specialising in service outsourcing, manufacturing and computer consulting, major brands such as Coca-Cola, Fujitsu, Mitsubishi, Panasonic and Toshiba all have business interests in Xi’an, while Boeing even contracts manufacturing tasks for some of its 737 aircraft parts to a local company.

Xi’an’s sights and tourism industry also attract over 50 million visitors each year – so even if you’re stopping by for business on Hainan Airlines, flying from Sydney twice-weekly from September 15, make time to see the world famous Terracotta Army, Famen Temple and the City Wall.


There’s even more to China than just the cities named above, so also consider flying with Cathay Pacific from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide or Cairns to Hong Kong, from where you can connect to almost 20 mainland Chinese destinations with the airline.

Its sister carrier Dragonair also features its own network of 22 destinations within mainland China, and as both airlines fall under the Oneworld alliance banner, Qantas Frequent Flyer members can of course earn points and status credits on eligible fares.

Also read:

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Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!
 

14 comments

  • airADL

    airADL

    28 Jul, 2016 08:39 am

    No CS Adelaide to Guangzhou?

    Anyways whats the best, most competitive ( cheapest !! ) business class return value for money fare. Excluding J* please

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    28 Jul, 2016 09:08 am

    Re: China Southern, correct: this article lists Chinese routes to destinations other than the hubs of Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.

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  • airADL

    airADL

    28 Jul, 2016 09:08 am

    Sorry Chris I missed that bit

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    28 Jul, 2016 09:14 am

    No dramas – China Southern's new Adelaide route is still great news for South Australia, so we've covered it also. :)

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  • KK

    KK

    28 Jul, 2016 09:21 am

    China Eastern just submitted application for Xi'an - Wuhan - Sydney 3 times weekly from this October.

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  • Chris Chamberlin

    ChrisCh

    28 Jul, 2016 09:27 am

    We've seen that mentioned elsewhere but we're currently seeking confirmation directly from the airline before we can report it here as fact. :)

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  • KK

    KK

    28 Jul, 2016 09:40 am

    Sure.

    China Eastern also planned Beijing-Hangzhou-Sydney later this year.

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  • airADL

    airADL

    28 Jul, 2016 09:31 am

    All the extra flights and competiton and Virgin re entering the Hong Kong market; we should all be in for some decent fare competition.

    China has never ever been more accessible.

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  • Cameron Hocking

    blingwad

    28 Jul, 2016 12:50 pm

    Great Article.

     

    I regularly travel to Xiamen, Fuzhou and Hangzhou. Being Melbourne based I’ve always just flown QF and CX to HK and then connected via KA, and I’d say I would continue to do that until more destinations are available from Melbourne, as I would prefer to connect in HK over SYD. I would also prefer to fly QF/CX than some of these China carriers.

     

    One of the benefits not mentioned with flying direct is avoiding the seemingly increasing delays out of HK due to air traffic control. 

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  • Graeme Bray

    Livewireshock

    28 Jul, 2016 04:04 pm

    As I relax in my hotel in Chongqing, I can write about my experiences. For a while I have been travelling to China, via Hong Kong, then crossing the border to Shenzhen for a much greater range of Chinese cities, including many 3rd and 4th Tier cities. The airports are only about 40km apart and not a huge worry or hassel with travel or transfer times. It also avoids the 'International' tax that flights from HK to the mainland attracts, so can be $300 cheaper on some routes to break the journey like this. However that cost advantage is lessening as more direct routes are opened up to other mainland destinations.

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  • Looking

    Looking

    28 Jul, 2016 10:18 pm

    There is $300 tax to fly from HK into China?

    Is that AUD or HKD?

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  • Graeme Bray

    Livewireshock

    29 Jul, 2016 12:15 am

    AUD$300, it caries from route to route. I would not make a fuss if it was only HKD$300. HK is considered an international flight, so it has higher international taxes applied to it, however recently with increased competition from Mainland Destinations, the airlines may absorb some of that extra cost. Just a suggestion to shop around, thinking of Hong Kong and Shenzhen airports almost as one, HK as the International Terminal and Shenzhen for the Domestic Terminal.

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  • smit0847

    smit0847

    28 Jul, 2016 11:01 pm

    Hi Chris

    Great article on many destinations I'm not familiar with. Given the description of most are 'heavy industry', 'automotive', 'chemicals' etc they dont sound very appealing for anything other than essential business trips. Are any of these destinations appealing for vacations? I know Chengdu is home of the pandas.

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  • Ryan Stephen

    RaptorNation158

    29 Jul, 2016 09:54 pm

    You could see the terracotta warriors in the ancient capital of Xi'an. Harbin is not too bad as well.

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26 Jun, 2019 04:21 am

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