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- 3400m x 45m
- Airlines currently operating to this airport with scheduled services
- Air China
Beijing Capital Airlines
China Eastern Airlines
China Express Airlines
China Southern Airlines
China United Airlines
Hong Kong Express
- Airlines currently operating to this airport via codeshare
- Air France
All Nippon Airways
Delta Air Lines
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Kunming Changshui International Airport is the primary airport of Yunnan Province, China. Located 25kms northeast of Kunming, Changshui International boasts two runways and is expected to handle up to 38 million passengers by 2020. The airport is a hub for China Eastern Airlines, Lucky Air and Kunming Airlines which shifted their operations to the airport following the closure of Kunming Wuijaba International Airport in Jun-2012.
Location of Kunming Airport, China
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Kunming-based Lucky Air, one of the many airline affiliates of privately-owned HNA Group, has applied to China's aviation regulator CAAC for permission to expand its business licence from domestic services only to include regional flights to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau. Expansion to "regional" markets in greater China is usually the first step for Chinese carriers to eventually open international markets.
Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province in southern China, is already linked to Hong Kong and Taiwan but not Macau. Kunming-Hong Kong is served by Hong Kong Airlines, also affiliated with HNA. Hong Kong sees the most international seats from Kunming while Taipei is the sixth-most popular international route.
Long-haul is increasingly a risky proposition, especially for new and small entrants, so well-established China Eastern is fortunate to be in the position of having a relatively light long-haul network but future aircraft deliveries to allow it to expand into this zone. Perhaps more important is that Qantas and Etihad are effectively ready for a deep partnership when China Eastern has the resources to work through the deal. It remains interested in both and is still negotiating with Qantas. No doubt there are other interested carriers, too.
China Eastern's long-haul network is still small, constituting only 17% of its international seat capacity (mostly within Northeast Asia) and 3% of overall capacity at what is one of the world's 10 largest airlines. But the network could use some help given its loss-making status – unquantified, although in 2012 North American losses decreased by about RMB100 million (USD16 million) while European losses increased by RMB100 million (USD16 million). But China Eastern has a long list of priorities, including watching its key presence in Japan, a market that has suffered a downturn after recent political spats, as well as expanding a subsidiary's tidy operation at Beijing's other airport at Nanyuan, and a deeper partnership with high-speed rail.
Significant expansion is under way at Kunming Airport following the opening of the airport's new facility in Jun-2012. As the seventh largest airport in China by passenger numbers (50th in the world – larger than Barcelona El Prat, Boston or London Gatwick) and fourth largest by physical size, Kunming is the capital of expansive Yunnan province, a hub for tourism and a key gateway for South and Southeast Asia. LCC AirAsia has launched a new flight while Singapore Airlines subsidiary SilkAir has increased service.
Kunming has organic O&D traffic flows but also great potential to be a hub for passengers going to Southeast Asia from either China or on long-haul sixth freedom flows Chinese carriers are increasingly targeting. China Eastern, which has a base in Kunming and is the largest carrier there, is mounting a rare aggressive expansion plan after primarily focusing on its merger and enhanced position in Shanghai.
Private carriers Juneyao and Spring Airlines want to establish a base, but many are finding the airport is already running out of slots. Before the airport becomes mainstream, future entrants may be locked out.
With little fanfare, Etihad Airways has notched China Eastern as codeshare partner number 37. At first glance, benefits may seem limited: Etihad has services to China Eastern's hub at Shanghai but China Eastern's only services to the Middle East are twice-weekly from Kunming to Dubai, close but not at Etihad's hub of Abu Dhabi. Yet the partnership has potential to develop powerfully and be one of the most important to each carrier.
It is a long-term possibility. China Eastern has a number of initiatives and not always enough support to see them through as quickly as Etihad can. Further cooperation will also depend on how markets develop. Unlike bullish China Southern, China Eastern is conservative with its long-haul growth and is not certain on the long-term prospects of Europe. Reducing direct long-haul exposure via a partnership with Etihad, which could also reach other markets, could be ideal. Etihad stands to receive further access to mainland China, which will one day be the largest domestic market and which it cannot serve entirely on its own, due to fleet, demand and bilateral restrictions.
Spring Airlines, China's largest and most successful low-cost carrier, will follow in the footsteps of AirAsia, Jetstar and Tiger Airways in establishing a pan-Asian strategy to have subsidiaires outside its home market. The first will be in Japan. While Japan already has local AirAsia and Jetstar subsidiaries and Spring's strategy may appear to be merely copying other carriers' strategies, Spring's strategy is guided by other objectives.
Airlines in mainland China are heavily regulated and direct competition is limited. Establishing a foreign subsidiary, however, will give Spring more transparent regulatory frameworks to work with in order to serve international Chinese routes. The foreign bases also allow flights to third countries. With China to become the largest market for LCCs, Spring has the potential to capitalise internationally on its local awareness as well as offer access to China's domestic network, which remains something of a holy grail for AirAsia and Jetstar. But Spring will face the challenges of sophisticated IT and ancillary revenue, which AirAsia and Jetstar have a large start on.
China Eastern-Hong Kong Airlines partnership bolsters them in a market dominated by Air China-Cathay
The melting pot of increasingly tangled and conflicting alliances is perhaps bigger nowhere else than in Greater China. Driving the partnerships is an entanglement of its own, the cross-holding between the state-favoured, Star-aligned Air China and powerhouse but oneworld member Cathay Pacific. The message that formidable force sent – a region divided between Air China-Cathay and The Rest – is producing smart partnerships amongst the comparatively smaller participants.
The latest is a codeshare between China Eastern and Hong Kong Airlines covering flights between Hong Kong and mainland China. So far it is a limited partnership on reciprocal routes that gives a larger offering of flight times. That appeases the corporate market which China Eastern reckons it has under-captured due to its lack of widebody flights compared to competitors. The partnership also allows China Eastern to regain momentum in the Hong Kong market, where it has decreased capacity following the opening of cross-strait flights to Taiwan in 2008.