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- Air China
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China Southern Airlines
China United Airlines
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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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965 total articles
49 total articles
To Shenzhen, or not to Shenzhen? That is a question facing China Southern Airlines as it prepares its long term hub strategy: whether the Guangzhou-based airline should continue growing in the nearby city of Shenzhen, or should concentrate its southern hub exclusively in Guangzhou.
In the upcoming peak season Guangzhou will account for 85% of China Southern's long haul departures. That includes, for the first time, 20 intercontinental Guangzhou departures in a single day. Shenzhen is part of China Southern's catchment area, but Shenzhen Airlines and its majority owner Air China plan to expand in Shenzhen, and competition continues in nearby Hong Kong.
As China Southern weighs its Shenzhen presence, and awaits regulatory clarity on where it can grow at the new Beijing Daxing airport from 2019, the airline intends to take 20 787-9s in the compact period of 2018-2020. China Southern operates 10 -8s, while its sister company Xiamen Airlines is due to receive its first -9 in Dec-2016. China Southern's 787-9 order puts long haul aircraft back on order at Asia's largest airline. A later aircraft order will provide China Southern with post-2020 growth capacity.
China Southern Airlines may be Asia's largest airline, but it has one of the smallest long haul networks. China Southern has shifted growth to international markets, which represented only 17% of capacity in 2009 but doubled to 34% in 2016. Its long haul plank has been Australia and New Zealand, funnelling traffic from around China down to its southern hub at Guangzhou. China Southern has met its objectives for Australia/NZ and now turns its focus to the market that has preoccupied most other Northeast Asian airlines: North America.
China Southern plans to increase flights from five daily to 11 daily, about the size that ANA is today – and larger than Air China and China Eastern. Although China Southern can build on the principle of using Guangzhou as a North-South hub, North America is a radically different proposition. Guangzhou's southern positioning limits exposure to the Chinese market that China Southern knows best. China Southern will need to target connections to Southeast Asia and India, which have only been a small component of Air China and China Eastern's network.
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.