Chinese airlines' long haul growth tilts the balance of power in Asia, as southeast Asia shrinks

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Asia's airlines are embarking on what they see as once-in-a-lifetime long haul growth. Since 2014 there has been an acceleration of new long haul destinations. In the seven years before 2014 airlines in Northeast Asia – excluding mainland China – opened 19 destinations that are still served in 2016. In the three years since 2014 they have opened, or intend to open, 24 markets. All Nippon Airways and Cathay Pacific show the largest growth, opening nine destinations each. Most recently announced was Mexico City for ANA in 2017.

Mainland Chinese airlines are setting even higher records – opening 75 long haul markets since 2006. Air China is opening 17 markets, followed by Hainan Airlines with 16 markets. Of the 75 destinations, 51 were opened only from 2014. Southeast Asia is a story of contraction. Malaysia Airlines used to be the third largest airline for non-Asian destinations but now Sichuan Airlines has just as many as Malaysia. Philippine Airlines and Singapore Airlines have added markets, but for SIA this has resulted in modest net growth.

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