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- Shuangliu Intl Airport
Cheng Du, Sichuan
China (People's Republic of)
- Main hub
- Chengdu Airport
- Business model
- Full Service Carrier
- Domestic | International
- Association Membership
- Codeshare Partners
- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Based at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport with an additional hub at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, Sichuan Airlines is owned by a consortium including the Sichuan provincial government and China Southern Airlines. The carrier operates an extensive network of domestic services within China.
Location of Sichuan Airlines main hub (Chengdu Airport)
420 total articles
Sichuan Airlines parent injects USD19m into Sichuan Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Corporation
33 total articles
Sichuan Airlines, China's fifth carrier to offer international long-haul services, will increase its presence in Australia with a new twice-weekly Chongqing-Sydney service launching 20-Dec-2013 with A330s. The route complements Sichuan's existing Chengdu-Melbourne service and will more easily allow passengers to visit Australia's two largest cities. Short connecting flights between Chengdu and Chongqing will complete the loop. The service will further expand the massive influx of Chinese capacity Australia has seen in recent years, including China Southern's A380 deployment to Sydney in Oct-2013.
Yet to be realised are Sichuan's bold plans to grow in Europe and North America. While the carrier's largest shareholder is the Sichuan government, all three of China's main airlines – Air China, China Eastern and China Southern – own a stake in Sichuan Airlines, complicating its aspirations. Slower growth may be wise: the Chengdu-Melbourne service in its first five months averaged only a 45% load factor. While China's secondary and western cities have geographical advantages for European services, for Australia it will be some time before they mature. This is not helped by the fact that Sichuan does not have an English language website.
The tremendous growth of the domestic Chinese aviation market over the last decade is strongly tied to the increasing use of widebody aircraft. The country's largest route, Beijing Capital to Shanghai Hongqiao, has grown 53% in frequencies from 2003 to 2013. And widebody aircraft have grown disproportionately higher: in 2003 widebodies flew 47% of Beijing-Shanghai frequencies; in 2013 they fly 76% of frequencies between the country's two main cities.
While carriers operate a number of widebodies on domestic routes, it is the A330 that captures attention. The twin-engined aircraft was not even in service in China in 2003 but in 2013 the A330 flies 53% of all Beijing-Shanghai frequencies. So it is not surprising Airbus chose a Chinese event to announce its lower-weight A330, pitched for regional and domestic operations. Widebody aircraft on trunk routes deliver not just cost efficiencies but permit capacity growth in restricted airspace. Widebodies are so key that some domestic Chinese route authorities are awarded only if an airline plans to use a widebody.
Australia needs to urgently negotiate expanded international air capacity which is constraining access to services from some of the country’s most important markets in Asia along with the United Arab Emirates. Capacity for several Asian markets, including China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines, is fully utilised by carriers from those countries which are important source markets for both tourism and trade.
The Australian Government is being criticised for not negotiating new bilateral capacity to keep pace with demand. Melbourne Airport CEO Chris Woodruff said at the Australian Airports Association convention in Nov-2012: “These agreements provide the framework in which we can go out to the international market and attract new air services to meet the increasing demand for travel to and from Australia. The Government needs to lead from the front on this issue. Our bilateral agreements need to provide plenty of capacity for future growth in passenger numbers.”
The North American market continues to outperform for Chinese airlines, a result of high demand and more limited competition than on European routes. In addition to Air China's forthcoming Beijing-Houston service, the carrier will add another four weekly services to New York JFK. A decade ago Air China had only a three times weekly Beijing-New York service, reflecting the rise of China as both a country and aviation market.
Air China's 2013 capacity to North America will be 183% greater than in 2003 and is quickly closing in on United Airlines' position as the largest carrier between North America and China.
In China it is not just the flagship and government-preferred Air China looking to expand. Hainan Airlines last year announced a Beijing-Chicago service to start in Mar-2013 with Boeing 787s. Following delayed Chinese certification of the 787 – which was stalling well before the aircraft's Jan-2013 grounding – Hainan has pushed the launch back to Sep-2013 and plans, for now, to operate the service with A330-200s.
The route marks the first high-profile long-haul route for Hainan Airlines, which has faced route restrictions as the government seeks to protect incumbents.
The recent history of Australia's two main airports – Melbourne and Sydney – has been one of Melbourne being on the offensive to capture traffic that went to Sydney by default while Sydney sat back, even as its growth lagged that of its competitor. But that is no more. A revitalised Sydney airport, with the backing of a new government, is out to hold its place. That was evident at last week's annual Routes Asia forum where both Melbourne and Sydney took the opportunity to announce respective strategic partnerships to drum up support.
Xiamen Airlines, China's sixth largest carrier and the world's 27th largest by available seat kilometres, is gearing up for more forays into the international market. Xiamen is predominately a domestic carrier with only 5.7% of available seats allocated to international services. Xiamen in May-2011 ordered six Boeing 787s for services to Europe and North America after their 2014/15 delivery dates. But international expansion, albeit medium-haul and not long-haul, can commence earlier with the carrier retrofitting its 757s with a three-class configuration, including having lie-flat beds in first class.
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