Qantas has launched its first Melbourne-Tokyo Narita service and predicts that the move could lead to something of a boost for Australia's already-booming tourist economy.
This follows on from the launch of new Sydney-Tokyo Haneda and Brisbane-Tokyo Narita routes in 2015, both of which offered extensive onward connections in both countries.
Strong demand prompted the decision to launch the new service, which runs daily and is being operated by an upgraded, two-class Airbus A330-300 aircraft fitted with the national carrier's signature Marc Newson interiors.
Travel between Japan and Australia is growing at an estimated 20 per cent a year - and the new flights take the number of seats Qantas offers on Japanese routes each week to 6,000.
Inbound flights on the new route are timed to link with the rest of the Qantas Australian domestic network, including onward flights to popular destinations such as Adelaide, Hobart and Perth.
Outbound services will connect with the extensive Japanese domestic network run by Jetstar.
Gareth Evans, chief executive officer of Qantas International, said the new service is the latest of many examples of his firm's willingness to expand its international network to meet demand, as well as unlocking opportunities for Australia in Asia.
He said that Japanese Qantas customers sent a clear message that they wanted a direct link to Melbourne.
"We've had a great response from Victorian tourism operators and the many companies in Melbourne who do business with Japan," Mr Evans commented.
"With a new free trade agreement in place, there's tremendous potential to build on the fantastic growth we've already seen in this market - and we want the Qantas Group to lead the way in making it happen."