- Passenger numbers: 2.9 million, +13.0% year-on-year;
- Cargo volume: 52,600 tonnes, +17.4%;
- Aircraft movements: 21,400, +9.5%.
Shenzhen Airport pax up 13%, cargo up 17% in Feb-2014
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China Eastern's LCC China United is expected to start international flying, challenging Air China
China Eastern Airlines is taking the lead amongst the country's state-owned carriers in developing an LCC presence. This follows Beijing's embrace and active promotion of LCCs, which it sees as spearheading new growth and being in line with the country's increasing austerity and efficiency targets. China Eastern has converted its subsidiary China United Airlines, based at the smaller Beijing airport of Nanyuan.
China United only flies domestically, and mostly to secondary cities, but in Jan-2015 applied to regulator CAAC to expand its business licence to international services. China United is expected to be given the right to fly internationally from its Beijing home but also Shenzhen.
Shenzhen's international development has been stunted – possibly due to lobbying from Air China partner Cathay Pacific, which feeds on the Shenzhen market – and local carrier Shenzhen Airlines has a minimal international presence. Shenzhen Airlines is majority owned by Air China, meaning China United's international expansion could eventually challenge the Air China group at multiple levels. With time there will also be an impact to the Hong Kong market, although crossing the border is still far from seamless.
Delta Air Lines' Shanghai hub plans: replicating the Amsterdam-KLM relationship will be difficult
At the same time as Delta Air Lines and its pilots take the lead in anti-Gulf rhetoric and ask for traffic rights to be withdrawn, brief comments by CEO Richard Anderson suggest Delta is considering establishing a hub in Shanghai.
A Shanghai presence would be a logical move for Delta, but establishing a hub will require the blessing of local partner China Eastern.
This Shanghai-China Eastern potential visually has similar building blocks to Delta's existing Amsterdam-KLM partnership; but the same outcome is far from guaranteed.
In the long term, Delta will need China Eastern more than China Eastern will need Delta. In this case the negotiating power does not rest in Atlanta. And, although both are SkyTeam members, China Eastern - and the other Chinese majors - have demonstrated considerable pragmatism in their partnership relations. Star Alliance's Air China for example holds a substantial minority share in oneworld's Cathay Pacific.