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Location of Chengdu Airport, China
Ground Handlers and Cargo Handlers servicing Chengdu Airport
747 total articles
41 total articles
As the trans-Pacific aviation market develops, traffic expands and new entrants arrive on the scene, there are predictablity changes in the ways passengers and freight move across this potentially vast long-haul market. One of the largest changes is occurring as Tokyo is bypassed.
US airlines in particular are resorting to use of the new direct rights - and new equipment - which provide them with improved non-stop access into the Chinese market and other Asian points.
This is the last part in a four-part series of analysis reports on the dynamic North Pacific market. The first part focused on Asian airlines, the second part on US carriers and the third part on the growing role of hubs in China.
Unsurprisingly, nearly 80% of the route expansion across the North Pacific in the past five years has occurred at hub airports where behind gateway connections are readily available - although for various reasons those connections are not always accessible on the same terms to Asian carriers, even where they are partners of the North American airlines.
China's emergence is marked by new service - 23% of all frequencies across the North Pacific are today are directed towards Shanghai and Beijing, up from 16% in 2009, while Tokyo has suffered the most notable reduction in flights.
However, as the market develops and as new factors like the introduction of the 787 begin to influence network planning, secondary airports are also starting to benefit. But it is a gradual process. Since 2009 there have been five new North American cities and three Asian airports directly linked for the first time.
Chinese airlines are increasing their commitment to US and Canadian points; and airports such as Shanghai Pudong, home of China Eastern, and Wuhan are offering generous inducements to airlines to add new long-haul service.
North Pacific air route development: Part 2 - US airlines’ risk aversion and Canada's restrictionism
In Part 1 of this report, we reviewed the higher than average traffic growth on the North Pacific over the past five years and the factors behind Asian airlines' route development.
In Part 2 we examine the aeropolitical environment on the Pacific and US airlines’ trans-Pacific roles. Canada's conservative policy is a constraint on Asian airline connections - and on potential air services to Latin America via Vancouver. Meanwhile, China's reluctance to move to open skies with the US limits American carriers' expansion plans.
The resurgence of US airline expansion is made possible not only by the prospect of market growth but also by their reincarnation as lower cost operations following bankruptcy and their subsequent mergers.
United Airlines improved its fortunes in 2Q2014, and posted net profits that were not dramatically lower than its fellow US network peers. Along with an increase in profitability year-on-year the airline also exceeded its passenger unit revenue guidance and kept its unit cost essentially flat.
Additionally, the airline has outlined a plan for shareholder returns in the form of a USD1 billion share buy-back programme to be completed during the next three years.
The signs are encouraging even as United still has a long road ahead in realising the full value of its merger. But the airline is offering more specifics of how it intends to shore up revenue through additional network optimisation that includes improving its regional operations.
China's "Go West" economic drive continues to deliver results as United Airlines becomes the latest international carrier to open service to China's west via a 787-8 service from San Francisco. Much growth is still to be unlocked from the growing economic prosperity of Chengdu and neighbouring Chongqing, but now Beijing is considering a new economic development plan that will boost the economy, and ultimately air services, of other regions.
The so-called "Silk Road" plan focuses on areas outside of China's eastern coast that has seen strong economic growth. Many of the regions under the "Silk Road" plan were former posts on the historic Silk Road. This includes Xi'an, the eastern terminus of the Silk Road, which is already experiencing international and long-haul growth. Xi'an's only scheduled (albeit seasonal) long-haul route is from Finnair, which launched service from Helsinki in summer 2013. China Eastern plans to launch Xi'an-Moscow service while Hainan Airlines will launch a Xi'an-Paris service.
Chengdu and Chongqing are also expected to fall under the "Silk Road" plan, ensuring growth continues there. Urumqi, already a hub for West Asia, will also likely feature in the plan and continue to grow. New regions including Gansu (home to Lanzhou) and Tibet (Lhasa and Xining) will also likely benefit, boosting their international services.
While China is sometimes seen a promised land with endless growth for aviation, it is a divergent story. Beijing Capital Airport grew passenger volumes by only 2.2% in 2013 compared to 3.4% at London Heathrow, the much-bemoaned constrained airport. The eastern coastal part of China accounts for the majority of travel, with 70% of 2013's 754 million passengers flying in the region. But this share is gradually falling; in 2006 73.2% of passengers flew in the eastern regions.
It is western provinces and the northeast that are taking market share, albeit slowly. It is these provinces that are seeing rising GDP and are home to some of China's fastest growing airports, such as Guiyang and Kunming. While the growth presents opportunities for domestic and foreign airlines, it presents challenges as flights are often not profitable. KLM's extensive secondary airport network in China is not profitable and the carrier does not see short-term changes. West Air, based in Chongqing, is transitioning to a LCC model in the hope that a leaner cost base makes it more sustainable. Airports often put out subsidies, effectively buying growth.