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Asia-Europe slowest-growing major market but dynamic: AF-KLM and SIA shrink as oneworld, China grow
Asia-Europe, which is one of IATA's big four international markets, has become the slowest-growing. The market underwent RPK expansion of only 1.5% in Jul-2016, the latest data available. Uncertainty in Europe and terrorism fears mean that some Asian travellers choose Australia and North America or, as IATA has flagged – travel within Asia, which has expanded by nearly double digits.
Although market expansion was slow in the first part of 2016, so too was capacity. Yet this changed in Jul-2016 as capacity increased more quickly, perhaps as airlines expected a stronger summer. Despite slow passenger growth, dynamics are highly varied – except for yield declines. The combined RPK growth of IAG (7.2%) Cathay Pacific (3.7%) and Finnair (8.7%) was not enough to offset the contraction of the largest airline in the market, AF-KLM (7.9%).
From the reported geographic data by all major airlines, load factors are falling.
Oslo Gardermoen Airport seeks Asian flights to leverage tourism to Norway; perhaps the new Iceland
Oslo Gardermoen Airport has sat out the recent boom in Asian growth. This is not just in comparison to neighbouring Helsinki's rapid Asian growth in tandem with Finnair, but even more broadly. Norway is the largest Western European country without a flight to China, and is the smallest of Western European countries with flights to Asia. Its only destination is Bangkok.
This is a juxtaposition to Norway's strong credentials: maritime and gas businesses, a wealthy population (much more so than Finland's) for outbound travel, and untapped year-round tourism opportunity – not just for Oslo but for all of Norway, from fjords in the summer to northern lights in the winter.
New management at Oslo airport wants to regain the initiative in Asia. Norway has the credentials to follow Iceland's sudden rise in tourism, especially from China. Management is considering foreign airlines, since SAS is in low-growth mode and has historically favoured Copenhagen, and Norwegian Air Shuttle lacks US approval for the NAI license it seeks – but perhaps more importantly is unable to access Russian overflight rights.