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China's secondary airlines plan long haul growth: 17 Chinese airlines to have widebody aircraft

Growth in Chinese aviation is now well evident in the number of Chinese operators of widebody aircraft. In early 2012 only five Chinese airlines operated widebody aircraft. The Jun-2016 delivery of an A330 to Tibet Airlines increased the number of widebody operators to 10, and by the end of the decade there will be – if all plans are followed through – at least 17 Chinese airlines operating widebody aircraft. This potentially sets up the market for more widebody and long haul airlines within China than in the rest of Northeast and Southeast Asia.

At the Farnborough Airshow Donghai Airlines and Ruili Airlines sought to acquire 787-9s, while Lucky Air will also take 787-9s and become China's first long haul LCC. Shenzhen Airlines will take A330s, while Juneyao, Okay Airways and Shandong Airlines are also considering the type.

There are also possible new entrants like Qingdao Airlines, whose shareholder Nanshan Group now owns Virgin Australia. Widebodies at Donghai, Ruili, Juneyao or others would mean a widebody operation from an airline not affiliated with one of China's four airline groups: Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Hainan Airlines. The smallest of these, Hainan Airlines, operates more widebodies than all the secondary and tertiary airlines combined.

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