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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. Shenzhen Airport is classified as a 4F facility, capable of handling wide-body equipment.
Location of Shenzhen Airport, China
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906 total articles
47 total articles
The pace of change in Chinese aviation can be daunting. The growth of Chinese airlines in international markets in 2015, one year, was the same as in the previous three years combined. Chinese airlines are growing outside their hubs to have wider coverage. Shanghai's lucrative market has drawn Air China and Hainan Airlines to launch long haul flights.
Now, in a matter of months, Shenzhen in southern China has gone from having no long haul routes to having six air services launched by four airlines during 2016. The Sydney route has already been opened and it could be followed by Auckland, Frankfurt, Los Angeles, Melbourne and Seattle – with surely more to come. Shenzhen did not meet an earlier target, but this is an impressive roster, even if mostly backed by handsome subsidies.
The expansion is notable given Shenzhen's underdevelopment in short haul international, let alone long haul. International traffic has flowed to other hubs, notably Hong Kong, which has excelled in becoming an intermodal transport hub by enlarging its catchment area through a network of ferries and coaches. Even as Hong Kong comes under a capacity crunch, it will not want Pearl River Delta traffic to flow back to Shenzhen, even if this is inevitable.
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.
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.