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- 3400m x 45m
- Airlines currently operating to this airport with scheduled services
- Air China
China Eastern Airlines
China Postal Airlines
China Southern Airlines
China United Airlines
Yangtze River Express
- Airlines currently operating to this airport via codeshare
- Air France
All Nippon Airways
Delta Air Lines
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
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
Ground Handlers and Cargo Handlers servicing Shenzhen Airport
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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.
China's HNA Group continues to find it difficult to identify profitable markets for its three all-premium A330-200 configured with 116 seats, 34 in first class and 82 in business. The aircraft were acquired to fly between Hong Kong and London on subsidiary Hong Kong Airlines, but were removed in Sep-2012 after suffering losses on the route.
While a viable option may have been to reconfigure the aircraft with economy seats, the aircraft have instead been transferred to HNA's flagship investment, Hainan Airlines, and used on domestic sectors between Beijing and Shenzhen, the third busiest route in China and 24th in the world.
Hainan has reported initial load factors ranging between 80% and 94%, but yields have been a challenge. Premium travel in China is still developing, with fares booked in advance not much more expensive than economy. The problem is acute for Hainan's all-premium services, where premium fares are offered at less than half the price of competitors. Despite this, Hainan is considering expanding the service to Beijing-Guangzhou.
Profitability will continue to be a difficult goal, at least until market share and frequencies can be established.
Asia's LCCs increasingly see room to serve both Macau and Hong Kong in the booming Pearl River Delta
AirAsia Philippines' two new international routes launched on 19-Jul-2012 were notable in that the services were to Hong Kong and Macau, 20nm apart and previously considered too similar to warrant service to both. But regional Asian carriers, and LCCs especially, are increasingly finding they can support service to both cities. Also on 19-Jul-2012, Asiana LCC subsidiary Air Busan opened a route to Macau, complementing its Hong Kong service.
While Hong Kong and Macau may be geographically close, the division by the South China Sea dictates different catchment areas, with Hong Kong also serving Shenzhen in mainland China while Macau can serve the mainland's Zhuhai, whose airport is only for domestic flights. The regions are not equals, and only Thai AirAsia has more capacity into Macau than Hong Kong. But as Asia's population and economy continues to grow, the Pearl River Delta's airports will be Asia's equivalent to the London, New York City or Sao Paulo airport networks.
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