MIAMI — Qantas will return to Beijing, China, with a daily service in January, targeting a larger share of the fast-growing Chinese travel market.

The route, expected to start on January 25, marks Qantas’ return for the first time since 2009, when the service was cancelled after the fallout from the global financial crisis, and makes Beijing the carrier’s third destination in Greater China, including its existing daily return services to Shanghai and 28 return services a week to Hong Kong. The new flight will boost the carrier’s total capacity into China by 18 per cent.

Air China already operates five direct flights from Sydney to Beijing each week in a codeshare agreement with Air New Zealand, while several airlines run services to Beijing via Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore.

The Qantas Beijing-Sydney service is part of the expansion of the joint venture partnership with China Eastern, which will also see three international codeshare routes between Australia and China being added under their strengthened agreement: Sydney-Hangzhou, Sydney-Kunming and Brisbane-Shanghai. China Eastern will codeshare on Qantas’ new Beijing service.

China is Australia’s second biggest source of visitors behind New Zealand, and Alan Joyce, Qantas CEO, expects it take the top spot within a few years.

“The tourism industry in Australia is very excited about what the Chinese market will deliver over the next few years, especially given it’s already become our second biggest source of visitors after New Zealand,” Joyce said.

“Australia is now at the top of the wish list for Chinese travellers thinking about where they want to go next.  There are 21 million people in Beijing alone and from the start of next year they will be just one Qantas flight away. The potential is tremendous.”

This growth is part of the Qantas Group’s broader focus on Asia, with around 50% of Qantas’ and Jetstar’s international capacity now dedicated to the region, compared with 30% 10 years ago.  Over the past 12 months, Qantas has added flights to Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia to meet growing demand in the region.