Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan, speaking at the CAPA Australia Pacific Aviation Summit, stated (07-Aug-2013) the carrier’s “over the horizon” growth prospects are bullish, with more than 20 new destinations planned. The airline will continue to work with other airlines to broaden its network and plans to build its operations in China, South America and North America.
Etihad Airways CEO bullish on long-term growth prospects
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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.
Philippines-China air service growth to lift Philippines' Chinese tourism as Duterte changes horses
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.