CAAC stated 21 airports in China reported annual passenger numbers exceeding 10 million in 2011, five more than 2010, of which eight airports reported annual passenger numbers exceeding 20 million. According to CAAC-News, airports which reported annual passenger numbers of more than 20 million include Beijing Capital, Guangzhou Airport, Shanghai Pudong, Shanghai Hongqiao, Shenzhen Airport, Chengdu Airport, Kunming Airport and Xian Airport.
Eight Chinese airports with annual pax over 20 million in 2011
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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.
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.