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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Chinese airlines have finally kick-started international growth, expanding 37% in the first eight months of 2015. This equates to an additional 7.38 million passengers in 8M2015 compared to 8M2014. This almost equals the 7.39m passengers Chinese carriers added between 8M2010 and 8M2014. The volume growth Chinese carriers used to achieve over four years is now being achieved over just a single year.
With countries continuing to liberalise visas for Chinese nationals, and the Chinese government directing airlines to expand internationally, this faster international growth is the new norm. Although most international Chinese traffic is short haul, the accelerated growth is seen with long haul expansion: Sichuan Airlines launched long haul flights in 2012 and not another Chinese carrier went long haul until Xiamen Airlines in Jul-2015. Beijing Capital Airlines followed in Sep-2015, and 2016 could see two more airlines – Tianjin Airlines and Tibet Airlines – fly long haul. 2016 will see at least 10 Chinese airlines operate widebody aircraft. This report looks at the long haul growth from China's secondary carriers that will increasingly become intercontinental names.
China airline growth: 57% international surge while domestic holds up and Hong Kong/Macau fall
As questions reverberate about China's economy and slowing growth, what are the impacts to Chinese aviation, home to the world's second-largest domestic market?
The good news is 1Q2015 traffic from China's airlines is comfortably robust, increasing 13% and surpassing 100 million passengers for the first time. Domestic growth remained at 11%, with Chinese airlines carrying an additional 9 million domestic passengers in 1Q2015 compared to 1Q2014 – equivalent to an additional 656 737 flights a day.
International growth has picked up giant steam, surging 57% in 1Q2015 – equivalent to an additional 64 A380 flights a day. But overall international traffic remains small for Chinese airlines, accounting for only about 7% of total carriage – the same as in 2008 but higher than more recent years. Regional growth has slowed to 5% as Hong Kong and Macau are not as attractive as they used to be.
More worryingly for Taiwan, that market is starting to show a contraction in Chinese visitors, perhaps as they head to seemingly more exotic regional Asian points like Japan, Korea and Thailand. Those three countries will attract the highest growth from Chinese airlines in summer 2015.