Japan flights: Qantas to launch Sydney-Sapporo non-stop, opens new Brisbane international lounge

Qantas will launch a new non-stop route to Japan in December to capitalise on Australians heading to the country to ski.

The airline will start seasonal flights from Sydney to Sapporo, on Japan's mountainous northern island of Hokkaido, from December 16 until March 28, 2020.

Qantas will fly an Airbus A330 on the route. The move follows the airline adding non-stop flights from Sydney to Osaka in 2017 and replacing Jetstar with a Qantas service on the Melbourne-Tokyo route in late 2016.

"The number of Australians travelling to Japan has more than doubled over the past five years, with almost 500,000 Australians visiting Japan in the last 12 months alone," said Qantas International acting CEO Naren Kumar. "We expect Japan's popularity to continue with the country hosting a number of major international sporting events in the next two years."

Japan will host the Rugby World Cup, starting in September this year, and in 2020 Tokyo will host the Olympics.

See also: Five places to experience the real Japan in 2019

Japan has consistently rated as the number one most-searched destination for Traveller readers over the past five years, ahead of places like Bali and the US. Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that the number of trips Australians are making to Japan has surged a whopping 340 per cent over the past 10 years.

In other Qantas news, the airline on Thursday opened its upgraded international lounge at Brisbane airport. The two-storey lounge has now grown to three levels, expanding by 25 per cent to accommodate close to 400 passengers.

The lounge features all the services Qantas passengers have come to expect, such as cooked-to-order meals from Neil Perry-designed menus, additional buffet dining, barista coffee, alcoholic drinks, Wi-Fi, showers and more.

Take a look at the new lounge in the gallery above.

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