- Passenger numbers: 54.0 million, +5.9% year-on-year;
- Cargo volume: 3.9 million tons, declined;
- Aircraft movements: 330,000, +8.9%.
Hong Kong Airport pax up 6%, cargo down in 2011
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HK Express receives first A321 and awaits A320neo as Hong Kong's LCC rate grows to 10 percent
HK Express continues to work towards its goal of ending 2018 with 50 aircraft. HK Express will end 2016 with 18 aircraft, including its first A321s and A320neo. The A321s provide additional capacity per movement – important to bring costs down, but also to grow where traffic and slots (at Hong Kong and abroad) do not permit.
Asian LCCs are increasingly gravitating to larger aircraft to try to overcome insufficient infrastructure. Larger narrowbodies at LCCs gained wide awareness with AirAsia's A321 order, although many other LCCs will operate larger types before AirAsia receives its first A321. The A320neo brings additional range, besides the usual efficiency improvements.
HK Express plans to end 2017 with 32 aircraft. Even if sustainable markets can be found, this is rapid growth for an opaque slot system at Hong Kong International Airport. HK Express' continued growth will further boost the share of seats that LCCs operate at Hong Kong. LCCs account for 10% of capacity at Hong Kong in 2016 – up from 5% in 2012. The gains have mostly been earned due to HK Express. With as much success as HK Express claims, it might now be time for the LCC to open its books and present transparent financial reports.
Cathay Pacific adds A350 to Vancouver, preparing for Hong Kong Airlines' long haul entry
Cathay Pacific's fortunes have been weakened in recent years as competition mounts, mostly from greater regional capacity, some of which feeds other airlines' long haul hubs. Locally Cathay has faced home market competition from Hong Kong Airlines and LCC HK Express, which together have weakened Cathay on its regional services. Yet Cathay has been relatively insulated from the growing direct competition on long haul routes, which have supported its network in recent times and account for a high share of revenue.
Hong Kong Airlines is growing long haul to Australia and New Zealand, but its major threat to Cathay is on North American and European routes, to be launched with forthcoming A350s. Cathay appears to be making a pre-emptive strike by deploying its attention-getting A350 to increase flights to Vancouver, which Cathay expects to be an early Hong Kong Airlines destination.
This is the first time that Cathay is growing Vancouver since the entry of Oasis Hong Kong in 2007. After Oasis' subsequent collapse Cathay withdrew the additional capacity it had mounted. Hong Kong Airlines, however, has stronger backing – HNA – and is already known in the territory. Hong Kong Airlines' impact is guaranteed, but the question is to what extent. This depends on how Hong Kong Airlines sharpens as it becomes the city's second flagship airline.