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Aviation is a strategic priority for Tourism Australia in achieving the industry's Tourism 2020 targets. Australia's international aviation capacity needs to grow by 40-50 per cent to support the Tourism 2020 strategy's goal of growing overnight visitor expenditure to more than A$115 billion annually by the end of the decade.

International aviation capacity to Australia

The last 20 years

During the past 20 years international aviation capacity to Australia has grown from 9.3 million inbound seats in 1995 to 24.6 million seats in 2016, representing an average annual growth rate of 4.9 per cent. Growth has been driven by increased capacity from New Zealand, Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia), China (including Hong Kong), the Middle East and the USA. See chart below for trend and change in aviation capacity over the last five years.

Tourism Australia will focus on continuing to strengthen partnerships with more than 20 airlines to grow existing services and new routes. 


Route Development

Upcoming new routes

*New services are based on indicative dates announced by airline and media sources. Details are subject to change.

Route Airline Aircraft Weekly frequency Effective operation dates
Guangzhou - Cairns China Southern A330-300 3x Dec-17
Zhengzhou - Melbourne Jetstar B787-800 2x Dec-17
 Xiamen - Hangzhou - Melbourne  Xiamen Airlines B787-800 2x Dec-17
Osaka - Sydney Qantas A330-300 3x Dec-17
Jakarta - Sydney Singapore Airlines B777-200 3x Deferred
Vancouver - Melbourne Air Canada B787-900 4x Dec-17
North America        
Houston - Sydney United Airlines B787-900 7x Jan-18
South America        
Santiago - Melbourne LATAM B787-9 3x Oct-17
MIddle East        
Doha - Canberra Qartar Airways B777-300 7x Feb-18
United Kingdom        
London-Perth Qantas B787-900 TBC Mar-18

Recent new routes

Route Airline Aircraft Weekly frequency Effective operation dates
Beijing - Sydney Qantas A330-200 7x Jan-17
Wuhan - Syndey China Eastern Airlines A330-200 3x Jan-17
Qingdao - Sydney Bejing Capital Airlines A330-200 2x Jul-17
Shenzhen - Brisbane Hainan Airlines A330-200 2x Sep-17
Tokyo - Melbourne Japan Airlines B787-300 7x Sep-17
South Korea        
Seoul - Cairns Jin Air B777-200 2x Dec-16 to Feb-17
United States        
Los Angeles - Melbourne Virgin Australia B777-300 5x Apr-17

Global Aviation

June international passenger demand rose 7.8% in the last 12 months. Total capacity climbed 6.5%, causing load factor to increase by one percentage point to 81.9%. For more information, see the latest press release from the International Air Transport Association.

Alliances, codeshares and consolidation

On June 2017, Hong Kong Airlines and Virgin Australia announced that they will form a codeshare partnership that will provide customers with connectivity to 11 destinations across the flight networks of both airlines..

On May 2017, Virgin Australia announced that it will begin selling codeshare services on Air Canada flights between Los Angeles and three major Canadian cities. This is the first phase of the strategic cooperation agreement between Virgin Australia and Air Canada, following the airlines’ execution of a Memorandum of Understanding in December 2016.

On March 2017, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) had approved Virgin’s alliance with HNA Group and its affiliated carriers for a five-year term.

On November 2016, Virgin Australia announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to enter into a strategic cooperation agreement with Air Canada. The first stage of the codeshare is scheduled to be implemented in early 2017.

The ACCC reauthorised the existing alliance between Virgin Australia and Etihad Airways for air services between Australia and United Arab Emirates for another five years.

Singapore Airlines Group (SIA) entered into a codeshare agreement with Air China. Both the parent airline, Singapore Airlines and the subsidiary, SilkAir are involved.

Other news 

On August 2017, Qantas announced that they have partnered up with Alibaba Group’s online travel service platform, Fliggy, which will allow customers to book Qantas flights directly on the site.

On November 2016, the 'open skies' pact was signed by the Australian and Chinese governments. Both Minister Darren Chester and Minister Steven Ciobo said that this will further strengthen the bilateral relationship and offer more opportunities for Australia's tourism and trade.

On October 2016, the Sunshine Coast Airport is officially designated as an international airport and can conduct year around Trans-Tasman services without the need for season-by-season approval. Peter Pallot, the GM for the Airport added "Once the new runway is operational in 2020 the opportunities to attract new freight and additional passenger services from other destinations will bring substantial benefits to our region".

Cathay Pacific will be boosting passenger and cargo capacity between Melbourne and Hong Kong with the use of the larger Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 777-300ER on the route from early 2017. The upgauge of aircraft type of two of Cathay’s three daily flights represents a capacity increase of 15.7 per cent to Melbourne.       

On September 2016, Emirates reported that it will boost it's current capacity on it's Sydney-Dubai route from 30 October 2016 to three daily flights to Sydney, becoming an all A380 operation,
Korean Air will upgrade it's daily Seoul-Sydney flights to its flagship Airbus A380-800 aircraft from October 2016.

Virgin Australia (VA) revealed plans to begin flying to Beijing and Hong Kong as part of a new venture with China’s HNA group. On June 2016, the IASC has granted VA permission to launch the new services between Australia and China. The services are said to be utilised by no later than June 1 2017.

Partnerships and campaigns

Tourism Australia currently has long term agreements with the following airlines to promote Australia to the world as a destination for business and leisure:

  • Air China
  • Air New Zealand
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern Airlines
  • Etihad Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin Australia

More aviation information