China’s Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail has not affected air travel between the cities to the extent anticipated, with air passenger numbers on the sector declining by 5% in the first 23 days of Jul-2011 when compared with Jun-2011 (Phoenix Media, 27-Jul-2011). Air China reported a 9.6% decline in passenger numbers while China Eastern Airlines reported a 2.3% increase in passenger numbers and the average load factor on the sector above 80%.
Beijing-Shanghai passengers down 5% from Jun-2011
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Aeroflot 6th freedom Part 2: China service is a strength for a SkyTeam member excluded from JVs
Part 1 of this report on Aeroflot's connecting sixth freedom traffic noted that Aeroflot is the 13th largest carrier of passengers between Western Europe and Northeast Asia, whereas Finnair – whose "Nordic Shortcut" strategy is well-known – is slightly larger and is the 10th largest operator. After Emirates, Aeroflot is the largest airline flying passengers between the regions but is not based in either of them; all the other operators are Western European or Northeast Asian airlines.
This second and final part examines Aeroflot's growing connecting market in depth. Of the airline's connecting Western Europe-Northeast Asian passengers, 54% are travelling to/from mainland China. This correlates with the share of Aeroflot capacity allocated to China. Among Finnair, Turkish and the Gulf 3 "superconnectors", Aeroflot has the fewest destinations in Northeast Asia. Yet its frequency in prime Chinese cities is unmatched. Aeroflot has the benefit of good aeropolitical relations with China while benefitting from other airlines being restricted over Chinese airspace. This may appear to be a short term advantage that will reduce as competition grows.
Yet a review of the city pairs where Aeroflot is the strongest on transfer traffic indicates growth opportunities as more markets are incorporated into JVs and complacency settles in. This may increase already tense relations between Aeroflot and its SkyTeam partners. Pursuing stronger transfer traffic will be a delicate decision for Aeroflot management.
China Southern to add 20 787-9s in first phase of refleeting as it prepares long-term hub strategy
To Shenzhen, or not to Shenzhen? That is a question facing China Southern Airlines as it prepares its long term hub strategy: whether the Guangzhou-based airline should continue growing in the nearby city of Shenzhen, or should concentrate its southern hub exclusively in Guangzhou.
In the upcoming peak season Guangzhou will account for 85% of China Southern's long haul departures. That includes, for the first time, 20 intercontinental Guangzhou departures in a single day. Shenzhen is part of China Southern's catchment area, but Shenzhen Airlines and its majority owner Air China plan to expand in Shenzhen, and competition continues in nearby Hong Kong.
As China Southern weighs its Shenzhen presence, and awaits regulatory clarity on where it can grow at the new Beijing Daxing airport from 2019, the airline intends to take 20 787-9s in the compact period of 2018-2020. China Southern operates 10 -8s, while its sister company Xiamen Airlines is due to receive its first -9 in Dec-2016. China Southern's 787-9 order puts long haul aircraft back on order at Asia's largest airline. A later aircraft order will provide China Southern with post-2020 growth capacity.