Canberra & Shanghai | Published on 17th November 2014 at 17:22

Qantas and China Eastern today announced a new joint venture, marking the start of a deeper level of commercial cooperation on flights between Australia and China.

The airlines will now submit an application for authorisation to Australian and Chinese regulators. Subject to regulatory approval, it is anticipated that the joint agreement will commence in mid-2015.

The five year agreement was signed today by Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce and China Eastern Chairman Liu Shaoyong at Parliament House, in a ceremony attended by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping.

Under the agreement, the airlines will deliver substantial benefits for customers and support the growing trade, tourism and corporate travel links between Australia and China. It is designed to complement the Qantas-Emirates partnership for Europe, Middle East and North Africa and the Qantas-American Airlines partnership for the US.

Through the new partnership, the airlines hope to ultimately open up new routes between Australia and mainland China, such as between Brisbane and Perth to Shanghai.

A key benefit of the agreement will be the co-location of both carriers’ operations in Terminal 1 at Shanghai International Airport, which will cut transit times by about an hour, open up a better range of onward connections and provide more choice for customers.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the airline was pleased to build on its existing codeshare relationship with China Eastern, which has been so successful with Qantas customers since 2008.

“We’re looking forward to working more closely with China Eastern to bring together our complementary networks and enhance the options for the increasing number of Qantas customers travelling to Shanghai and beyond,” said Mr Joyce.

“Coordination means the opportunity to improve schedules and connection times, and to deliver improved products such as a joint lounge and streamlined check-in facilities in Shanghai. It will be a win for our customers and, by making it easier for Chinese travellers to visit Australia, a win for trade and tourism”.

In welcoming the agreement, China Eastern Chairman Liu Shaoyong said “Australia is one of the most important tourist destinations and trade markets for China, and Qantas is the key partner for China Eastern in Australia.”

“It’s important for us to strengthen the cooperation with Qantas to provide better, more convenient travel products for passengers between the two countries,” said Chairman Liu.

Air services between Australia and China have been identified as critical to the ongoing development of strong economic ties between the two countries. China is now Australia’s largest two-way trading partner in goods and services, its largest goods export destination and its largest source of merchandise imports. China is Australia’s most valuable inbound tourism market – projected to contribute up to $9 billion annually to the Australian economy by 2020.