The Singapore Airlines (SIA) Group is continuing to pursue rapid expansion in China with the launch of services to Dalian by Scoot and to Fuzhou by SilkAir. The addition of Dalian and Fuzhou will extend the group’s Chinese network to 25 destinations in Nov-2016.
Scoot launched Shenyang as a one-stop service via Qingdao in 2013; it is now upgrading the route to nonstop. Shenyang will give Singapore Changi 25 nonstop destinations in China – more than any other airport in Southeast Asia. Fuzhou is already served from Singapore, while Dalian will initially be served as a one-stop product via Qingdao.
Maintaining a leading network in China is an important component of the current SIA Group strategy. It is also essential, since SIA is unable to codeshare on domestic services within China due to regulatory restrictions.
First bananas, then people. China's lifting of a trade ban against bananas from the Philippines bodes well for aviation. Relations between China and the Philippines turned negative in 2012. The issue was primarily over China's claims to uninhabited islands – a debate that also caused China-Japan relations to turn sour. China banned Filipino banana imports and issued a travel warning against the Philippines. Travel warnings from China carry more weight than in other markets since state-owned/linked travel agencies essentially stop selling the impacted market. Diplomatic rows have resulted in drastic reductions in outbound passenger flows from China.
Japan has more than recovered but the Philippines' underexposure to China is well evident: the Philippines has received the least number of Chinese tourists in Asia. Laos and Cambodia, far smaller than the Philippines, each received more Chinese tourists than the Philippines.
New Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte is pivoting Manila's allegiance away from the US – to China. His presidency is young and the calculation has its sceptics, but China appears to be warming. Following the lifting of its ban on banana trade, China is expected to use President Duterte's visit to Beijing to lift its travel warning against the Philippines. This will likely stimulate large air service growth between China and the Philippines. Yet for existing markets, there is some concern that the Philippines presents new competition.