China's Juneyao Airlines has always operated in the shadow of Spring Airlines. They launched from Shanghai within a year of each other and have had similar growth trajectories. Yet Spring sought the limelight and garnered attention for its low cost model. Juneyao, in contrast, often seemed to want to keep a low profile.
There are now rapid changes for Juneyao, and not just in comparison to its quiet history. In 1H2017 Juneyao is due to be the first "Connecting Partner" for Star Alliance, which will regain a footprint in China's commercial centre. Juneyao will likely transition to being a full Star member.
This will help the airline to grow its footprint as it takes delivery of its first of five 787s in 2018. Traffic rights internally and externally will be a challenge, but Juneyao must keep even closer watch on its quasi strategic patron, Air China. It is in the interests of Beijing based Air China to have a friend in Shanghai, but Air China's ultimate objective with Juneyao could be consolidation.
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