Qingdao Airlines launched (26-Apr-2014) inaugural operations on 26-Apr-2014, transporting 150 passengers on daily Qingdao-Chengdu service operate with A320 aircraft, according to the carrier’s Webo page – see Route Changes Table for more information. The carrier will expand its fleet to five aircraft within the year and further expand to 50 aircraft by 2020 and 100 aircraft by 2025. Qingdao Airlines president Song Zuowen said the carrier will build itself into a “boutique airline” in terms of planning, branding, personnel training, management standards and product design. He said: “Boutique airlines does not mean we offer services to premium passengers only, but it means a higher quality we are pursuing.” The carrier will launch services to Chengdu, Shenzhen, Changsha, Shenyang initially and eventually apply for rights to operate to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, as well as establishing overnight bases at Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu and Xiamen.
Qingdao Airlines launches inaugural operations, establishing itself as a 'boutique airline'
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China's Lucky Air hopes for greater fortune with LCC model. 70 aircraft and widebodies by 2020
'Luck' may be in its name but Chinese carrier Lucky Air is not leaving its future entirely to fate. The Kunming-based carrier is expected to transition to the low-cost model, following the Chinese government's rapid rise in LCC interest.
With a southwestern base and route network concentrated on secondary cities, fare premiums are hard to attain. Lucky Air hopes to differentiate itself in China's often dated and monotonous airline branding, and so has introduced a new logo, becoming the latest HNA-affiliated airline to re-brand.
Lucky Air is one of two Chinese carriers granted international traffic rights at Kunming and there is the prospect for further international growth, mostly to South and Southeast Asia. If it is to be serious about addressing costs, Lucky Air will need to look at its fleet, a mix of 737s and A320s. Its 26 aircraft fleet could grow to 70 by 2020, including possibly widebody aircraft within three years, the carrier announced at the Routes Asia forum in Kunming.
China's Kunming Airport aims for a hub role from Europe and North America to Southeast Asia
Kunming in southwest China has been the country's traditional gateway to Southeast Asia, and flights to Southeast Asia account for 60% of Kunming's international seats, making Kunming an exception to most other Chinese airports mostly with larger international exposure to Northeast Asia. Kunming hopes to use its Southeast Asian network to be a transfer hub from North America and Europe, and in 2014 its regional government established a RMB200 million (USD32 million) fund for new international routes.
Such traffic, while plausible in the long-term, will be the icing on the cake. 93% of the airport's seats in Mar-2015 are domestic and Kunming carried 32m passengers in 2014. International will be a small but growing part of Kunming's story, with sixth-freedom Europe/North America-Southeast Asia traffic even smaller. Kunming's geography disadvantages it in having long-haul flights to North America.
While geography is more favourable to Europe, competition from Southeast Asian and Gulf carriers is strong and Kunming will be up against mighty networks. Point-to-point traffic volumes are not large enough to contemplate filler connecting traffic and Kunming cannot rely on connecting traffic the way Dubai can.