China and Taiwan’s airlines have operated 21,127 flights, transporting more than 4 million passengers with an average load factor of 77.5% since the launch of scheduled cross-Strait services on 31-Aug-2009 to 31-Jul-2010 (People’s Daily/AvBuyer, 01-Sep-2010). China Eastern Airlines stated load factor on cross-Strait services from Shanghai and Hangzhou has been 90%, with monthly traffic figures reaching new record highs every month since Jan-2010. Air China reported average load factor of 86% to 87% on the sector while EVA Air stated it has transported up to 600,000 passengers since its cross-Strait launch, with average load factor increasing from 70% to 90%.
Cross-Strait load factor reaches 77.5%
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China Southern Airlines deflects yield pressure concerns. Long haul focus shifts to North America
China Southern Airlines may be Asia's largest airline, but it has one of the smallest long haul networks. China Southern has shifted growth to international markets, which represented only 17% of capacity in 2009 but doubled to 34% in 2016. Its long haul plank has been Australia and New Zealand, funnelling traffic from around China down to its southern hub at Guangzhou. China Southern has met its objectives for Australia/NZ and now turns its focus to the market that has preoccupied most other Northeast Asian airlines: North America.
China Southern plans to increase flights from five daily to 11 daily, about the size that ANA is today – and larger than Air China and China Eastern. Although China Southern can build on the principle of using Guangzhou as a North-South hub, North America is a radically different proposition. Guangzhou's southern positioning limits exposure to the Chinese market that China Southern knows best. China Southern will need to target connections to Southeast Asia and India, which have only been a small component of Air China and China Eastern's network.
Air Canada Part 1: low cost rouge is a pillar of growth; but further expansion might be constrained
During the past year Air Canada has found itself defending its double-digit capacity growth, stressing that 90% of its capacity in 2015, 2016 and 2017 is being deployed to its international network – an entity the company believes is far from reaching maturity. Recently the airline has outlined plans to introduce a raft of new long haul flights to Europe and Asia operated by Air Canada mainline and its low cost arm – Air Canada rouge.
Air Canada stresses the pillars of its international expansion – Boeing 787 widebodies and the establishment of its low cost subsidiary rouge – enable the company to enter international markets it once considered unviable due to higher costs. During the summer of 2018 rouge will nearly reach its 50 aircraft cap, and Air Canada needs to start determining if there are further opportunities to grow its low cost unit. Those evaluations will partially dictate Air Canada’s overall growth levels beyond 2018.
In the short term Air Canada is not seeing any broad changes in consumer behaviour, reflected in its solid booking curves. Weaker markets in Western Canada, hit by the downturn in the oil sector, are stabilising as capacity cuts have resulted in a rational supply-demand scenario.
This is Part 1 in a two part series on Air Canada. The second instalment will focus on the airline’s costs and balance sheet management.