China-Canada aviation in Tourism Year 2018. Of airlines and economic value

The year 2018 is the Canada-China Year of Tourism and follows 2017's Australia-China Year of Tourism, when Australia liberalised traffic rights for Chinese airlines, effectively under an open skies regime.

Canada and Australia appear at opposite ends of the liberalisation (or protectionism) spectrum: Canada would probably not want to add traffic rights for Chinese airlines but feels political pressure, given that the tourism year needs to demonstrate developments. Chinese airlines have maximised their traffic rights, while Air Canada is using approximately half of the Canadian entitlement. Qantas/Jetstar meanwhile occupy only 10% of Australia-China capacity and Chinese inbound tourism reached 1.4 million in 2017; this contrasts with Air Canada's 37% market share, as the largest airline in the market, and Canada's inbound tourism of a little under half Australia's.

Air Canada hopes to finalise a JV with Air China in May-2018. Details are few, and neither airline's government has transparency on such matters.

There appear to be significant anti-competitive concerns: Air Canada and Air China account for 56% of nonstop Canada-China seat capacity and have a monopoly on the Beijing-Vancouver route. That is the largest city pair, and there is no significant viable alternative on another airline.

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