Australian flag carrier Qantas Airways relaunched its Sydney-Beijing direct service on Wednesday, ahead of the Lunar New Year celebrations and the China-Australia Year of Tourism.
The first flight on Wednesday comes ahead of rival Virgin Australia's anticipated Beijing and Shanghai service in June and additional services from Chinese airlines following the Open Skies agreement that removed capacity restrictions on the routes between Australia and China.
With China on track to become Australia's largest source of international arrivals - two million visitors by 2025 - and Australian outbound tourism to China growing 40 percent in the past five years to more than 700,000, airlines are expecting heightened demand on the lucrative corridor.
"Today, we believe the market is so different from where it was before, the growth of the Chinese economy, the business that we now do in China, the influx of Chinese tourism to this market means that the economics have ever been better," Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce told the route's relaunch party in Sydney on Tuesday night.
"We're linking this amazing city (Sydney) with its amazing continuance of indigenous history with an amazing city, Beijing, which is a 3,000-year-old city with eight centuries of being the capital of China," Joyce said.
"There's nothing more symbolic than linking these two continuous pieces of history together."
"China Eastern have been unbelievable in making sure that we have the right slot to get into Beijing, they're hard to come by and (they) made sure we have a service that arrives at a good time, and arrives at a good time," Joyce said as he lauded the partnership. Qantas also has a partnership with China Southern Airlines.
Qantas commercial flights to Beijing and Guangzhou only operated between 1984-87, before a relaunch in 2006 that was then suspended in 2009.
At 11:53 a.m. local time, the Qantas' shares were 0.73 percent higher at 3.46 Australian dollars (2.61 U.S. dollars) in the stock market.