Top international routes in China and India. Shanghai Pudong and Delhi dominate
Shanghai Pudong Airport is China's leading international hub, reflecting its role as China's economic capital. Pudong has roughly 550,000 international seats per week, ranking it 22nd globally at present. Beijing Capital, with 470,000 international seats per week, ranks 27th globally, while Guangzhou (181,519 seats) is down in 85th place. Delhi has meanwhile become India's leading international gateway, with some 292,000 seats per week (ranking it 50th), ahead of Mumbai at just under 240,000 seats, ranking 63rd. But Dubai features heavily in the top 20 routes to/from India.
Shanghai Pudong Airport features in half of China's top 20 international city pairs. The biggest route to/from China is unsurprisingly Pudong-Hong Kong (which is technically a 'regional route'), followed by Beijing-Hong Kong. Routes from Pudong to leading Asian gateways Tokyo Narita, Seoul Incheon, Singapore and Osaka make up the next four places. Beijing-Seoul Incheon is seventh, though capacity reductions over the winter will see it drop to 11th place, according to CAPA's Routes Rankings Tool.
Pudong-Taipei, Beijing-Narita and Guangzhou-Bangkok round out the top 10. Indeed, Guangzhou features only once in the top 20, as do Qingdao and Xiamen. Only three routes outside Asia feature in the top 20: Pudong-Frankfurt (14th), Pudong-Paris (19th) and Beijing-Frankfurt (20th).
China's Top 20 international routes by seats (per week): 13-Sep-2011 vs 16-Jan-2012
Delhi had edged out Mumbai to be India's leading international gateway by seats per week. Both cities feature six times in the top 20 routes list. Interestingly, Dubai features seven times, with routes to Mumbai and Delhi heading the list, followed by Chennai and Hyderbad in 11th and 12th places, respectively. Dubai's weekly seating capacity to Bengaluru, Kozhikode, Kochi also make it into the top 20 list.
India’s Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in a damning report on Air India (AI) tabled in parliament last week stated the liberalisation of the bilateral air traffic entitlements with other countries "did not provide a level playing field to Air India (and to a lesser extent other Indian private airlines)". CAG stated the "massive increase" in bilateral air traffic rights to Gulf nations occurred despite Air India's "strong reservations" as this was the carrier's most profitable international sector. "Clearly, the Gulf sector was AI/Indian Airlines' most profitable international segment before the liberalised policy on bilateral entitlements. AI repeatedly expressed strong reservations to the Ministry against the proposals/requests from Gulf countries for an increase in seat entitlements as well as additional points of call at interior locations in India," the report said, adding the grant of bilaterals demonstrated "the one-sided nature of benefits to Emirates/Dubai".
The report continued: "These (bilateral) agreements, besides not affording adequate time to AI/IA to set their houses in order and gear up for a highly-competitive environment, very evidently worked to the detriment of the national and Indian private carriers," the CAG said. "At this stage, Indian carriers (including AI) will have to tackle renewed and serious challenges to compete effectively with established international 'mega carriers'.”
India's Top 20 international routes by seats (per week): 13-Sep-2011 vs 16-Jan-2012