Sichuan Airlines plans direct Melbourne-Chengdu flights

Sichuan Airlines plans direct Melbourne-Chengdu flights

Yet another Chinese airline is starting direct flights to Australia, with Melbourne seeing thrice-weekly flights to Chengdu with Sichuan Airlines.

Chengdu, a city with 14 million people in its urban area, lies to the northwest of Chongqing in western China. It's one of "China's 13 megalopolises" according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, and one of the Chinese Government's key growth areas.

Sichuan Airlines is a medium-sized airline in Chinese terms -- not one of the Big Four Chinese airlines, but 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.

Melbourne-Chengdu flights are planned to run three times a week, using an Airbus A330-200 aircraft, with angled lie-flat seats in business class. 

No dates have yet been announced for the route, with a Melbourne Airport spokesperson telling Australian Business Traveller that all the arrangements are "still subject to regulatory approval." Usually, that's a rubber-stamp process.

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.

Suggested names for the Australia-Chengdu-Europe route to rival the Kangaroo, Falcon and Canton routes in a comment below...

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

John Walton

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.


  • aklrunway


    21 Sep, 2012 12:57 pm

    Wouldn't fly a Chinese airline if you paid me

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  • Camohe


    21 Sep, 2012 02:00 pm

    How about the "Hot Pot Route"?

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  • dmo


    21 Sep, 2012 02:51 pm

    How about the Panda Route? Being the home of the Panda.

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  • AusFlyer


    21 Sep, 2012 03:25 pm

    Now this route has success written all over it.... Not.

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  • johnaboxall


    21 Sep, 2012 03:59 pm

    You're looking at it from the wrong angle. They're coming from an area with more than half the population of Australia. They can find 2~300 people per flight to visit Melbourne without trying too hard. Add direct export and import freight - they've got a winner. Plus they'll sucker a few cheapskates over here to try them out. 

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  • snoopy7787


    21 Sep, 2012 04:23 pm

    Should do well to Europe for those of us too scared to fly through Dubai or Abu Dhabi.Here's one Panda Bear Route.

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  • Agfox


    21 Sep, 2012 04:52 pm

    @aklrunway Not even Cathay Pacific?

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  • spinoza


    23 Sep, 2012 02:27 am

    CX is not a Chinese airline. Not even close. 

    Hong Kong was where I was born. China is across the border where people speak a different language and have a different culture :)

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  • seanpodge


    21 Sep, 2012 11:24 pm

    Hot numbing soup route?

    Or perhaps the more catchy but less advertising friendly "burn your face off" route. Refering to the inflight meals rather than the airline's safety record, of course!

    In any case, good to see another option for travelers to China, especially for Melbournites such as myself. If I didn't know any better, I'd say this is something that Qantas and Virgin might want to look into.......

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  • here2go


    22 Sep, 2012 06:35 am

    Will there be sufficient WC for passengers who easily suffer from the "Johnny Cash Effect" from food that is too spicy.  A supply of clove oil for topical relief?

    I love the taste of spicy food - doesn't mean my body does though:)

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  • John Walton

    John Walton

    24 Sep, 2012 11:22 am

    I would love the "belly pork over rice" route, and I maintain that Chinese food is one of the cuisines that stands up best to the rigours of cooking/packaging/reheating/serving airline food.

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  • here2go


    22 Sep, 2012 06:39 am

    More serious note - with all these Sky Team allied airlines flying to Australia from the PRC, what's the bet that if Virgin Oz does pick an alliance, it will be SkyTeam over Star?

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  • Tom


    27 Nov, 2012 11:57 am

    This will be great.  I've flown Sichuan domestically in China they are a good airline better than CS and as I travel to Chengdu yearly for pleasure not business family it will save me a small fortune.  When does this look like happening as they have been speaking about it for a gew years now.

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17 Jun, 2019 09:16 pm


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