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826 total articles
38 total articles
United Airlines San Francisco-Hangzhou route emphasises new focus on secondary China gateway service
United Airlines plans to open three weekly 787-9 flights between San Francisco and Hangzhou from 13-Jul-2016, according to Chinese news site Carnoc. Hangzhou in eastern China will be the third example of United flying to a secondary Chinese city after Chengdu (opened in 2014) and Xi'an (due to open May-2016). No other North American airline serves a secondary Chinese city, so United's growth – with an expectation to open a new Chinese city every year – could influence future decisions. A Hangzhou link could be a partial substitute for United's unsuccessful attempts to secure additional slots at nearby Shanghai Pudong; both KLM and Qatar Airways serve Hangzhou in addition to Shanghai Pudong.
While no other North American airline links the continent with a secondary Chinese city, four Chinese airlines do, and three more Chinese operators could open service later in 2016. Sichuan Airlines was the first with its 2012 Shenyang-Vancouver service. There were no secondary routes in 2013; there were two in 2014 and there was one route in 2015. United's Hangzhou route is the eighth secondary China-North America route that is in some form of proposal for 2016, firmly cementing 2016 as the year of secondary routes from China to North America. The result in 2016 could be that more Chinese cities have service to North America than they do to Europe.
China's CAAC generally only allocates one local airline to an international route, so once a route is flown a Chinese competitor cannot move in. This hub fragmentation risks efficiency. A difficult shake-out is likely in the future. For foreign airlines these developments make route planning more hazardous.
Chinese airlines continue to apply for long haul routes that disrupt the country's tidy plan of having one airline serve a local market. Some routes requested may fit strategically, but they also display an element of tit-for-tat retaliation or pre-empting a local competitor. China Southern took advantage of Shenzhen's home airlines Air China and Shenzhen Airlines, ignoring Shenzhen's long haul market, and opened a Shenzhen-Sydney service. Air China has now applied for Shenzhen-Melbourne service, which China Southern could have served next. Examples are growing weekly.
Naming 12 Chinese cities would be a challenge for most people outside China. Yet that is how many mainland Chinese cities will so far enjoy non-stop service to Australia in 2016. Until 2011, only three Chinese cities had flights to Australia. This doubled to six in 2014, and will double again to 12 – maybe more – during 2016. A rising middle class coupled with Australia's liberal air service regime and low fuel prices have meant a growing prominence of Chinese aviation, and the visitors it brings.
The growth in Chinese airports with service to Australia coincides with growing Australia-China non-stop city pairs: from nine in 2013 to 21 in 2016. These 21 city pairs are just under the 22 between Australia and its far closer neighbour and partner, New Zealand. New Zealand is Australia's largest source of foreign visitors, but China will soon surpass New Zealand. The 12 months to Nov-2015 made the first year that Australia received more than 1m Chinese visitors, making Australia the second largest long haul market for Chinese visitors after the United States.
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.
Ethiopian Airlines is planning further long-haul network expansion in 2016 with new destinations in Asia and North America. The expansion is made possible by the delivery of Ethiopian’s first batch of 343-seat A350-900s along with additional 270-seat Boeing 787-8s.
New York is in line to become Ethiopian’s fourth destination in North America in Jun-2016, joining Toronto, Washington Dulles and recently launched Los Angeles. Ethiopian is also looking at Chicago and Houston, which could be launched in 2017.
In Asia Ethiopian is planning to launch services to Chengdu, Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta and Singapore. East Asia has been the main driver of Ethiopian’s rapid expansion in recent years – with two destinations added in 2015 for a total of nine – and will continue to be a focus as Africa’s largest airline doubles its fleet over the next decade.
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.