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- 3400m x 45m
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- Air China
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Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport is the gateway to Shenzhen and a key airport in the powerhouse Guangdong Province of Southern China. Close to Hong Kong in the Pearl River Delta and hosting domestic, regional and international passenger and cargo services for over 15 airlines, the airport is a hub for Shenzhen Airlines, while China Southern Airlines also has a major presence at the airport.
Location of Shenzhen Airport, China
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812 total articles
43 total articles
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.
China Eastern Airlines is taking the lead amongst the country's state-owned carriers in developing an LCC presence. This follows Beijing's embrace and active promotion of LCCs, which it sees as spearheading new growth and being in line with the country's increasing austerity and efficiency targets. China Eastern has converted its subsidiary China United Airlines, based at the smaller Beijing airport of Nanyuan.
China United only flies domestically, and mostly to secondary cities, but in Jan-2015 applied to regulator CAAC to expand its business licence to international services. China United is expected to be given the right to fly internationally from its Beijing home but also Shenzhen.
Shenzhen's international development has been stunted – possibly due to lobbying from Air China partner Cathay Pacific, which feeds on the Shenzhen market – and local carrier Shenzhen Airlines has a minimal international presence. Shenzhen Airlines is majority owned by Air China, meaning China United's international expansion could eventually challenge the Air China group at multiple levels. With time there will also be an impact to the Hong Kong market, although crossing the border is still far from seamless.
China’s airlines are settling into a changed market from Shenzhen and Guangzhou to Xiamen in southern China, where a high-speed 200 km/h rail line (HSR) opened on 28-Dec-2013 and reduced travel time between Shenzhen and Xiamen from 11 hours to three hours and 50 minutes. What was once a journey where air had a distinct advantage is now a trip where air has only a minor advantage.
Unsurprisingly, flights from Shenzhen to Xiamen have been cut, by a third, with 53 weekly flights decreasing to around 35.
Flights from Guangzhou to Xiamen have dipped 12% from 91 a week to approximately 80. (Fare information is unavailable, which could show discounting to better compete with rail.) The changes are real, but their relative impact in the wider scheme of things is very small: China in Jun-2014 had approximately 31,000 weekly domestic round-trips. Taking a few dozen flights out is a rounding error, although more realistically the slots and airspace can be used to open new routes.
Air China, like most of its domestic peers, remains focused on the long term outcome of China becoming the world's largest aviation market. It is the short term that is challenging.
Domestic economic growth lags the targets set for aviation under previously stronger years. Airport slots remain in short supply and competition is fierce amongst China's airlines, even though the majority of capacity is from state-owned carriers.
The response has been to grow as space becomes available, not as demand requires. This helps satisfy national objectives, where any increase in throughput makes a larger economic contribution than would capacity discipline designed to boost a carrier's financial position.
The outcome of these seemingly conflicting goals is that Air China has performed well in difficult conditions. Its 2013 load factor held up while yields decreased 9%, some of this offset by a change in accounting. Top level results show a 51% decrease in group operating profit to RMB4.1 billion (USD785 million), a 4.2% operating margin, helped along by forex gains. Although 2014 ASK growth will slow compared to previous years, it is still high at 14% overall, driven by 9% domestic growth, 22% international growth and 12% regional growth.
The expansion in late 2013 of Shenzhen Airport’s terminal three will see capacity growth of up to 57.9% as hourly movements increase from 38 to 60. The capacity will grow the local market, a relatively prosperous area that was China’s first free trade zone and has benefitted by tight relations with Hong Kong, just over the border. Shenzhen Airlines and majority owner Air China are the largest carriers and will benefit from the capacity increase.
But rivals are looking to establish a presence, mindful that capacity increases in key Chinese cities will be rare, having already experienced restraints in Beijing and Shanghai but also Guangzhou.
China Southern intends to launch international flights from Shenzhen despite being based in Guangzhou, 99km away. Spring Airlines has larger ambitions, eyeing Shenzhen as its first southern China base. Spring also wants to lure traffic from congested Guangzhou and Hong Kong. The distance from Guangzhou and Hong Kong is close but ground transport restraints make them far away. In other markets LCCs have established successful ground transport options – can Spring replicate that?
A proposed regional alliance amongst SkyTeam's Greater China members – Taiwan's China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern and Xiamen Airlines – may appear to be a niche strategic move in the small but highly profitable and expanding Taiwan-mainland China market.
Yet the alliance is also indicative of the growing trend for North Asian airlines to combine their strengths against imposing competitors, namely Air China and Cathay Pacific.
The alliance would account for about half of the capacity between China and Taiwan, a valuable market which is continuously expanding under tight control and route delegation. Its share on certain key business routes, like Taipei-Shanghai, would be even higher. Further airline strength and capacity will pressure Hong Kong-based carriers, which once had a healthy business of carrying passengers between China and Taiwan via their hub.