China Southern Airlines increased fuel surcharges on services between mainland China and Hong Kong and Macau from CNY111 to CNY122 per sector, effective 01-Feb-2011 (Yicai/CAAC-News, 14-Feb-2011). Air China also increased fuel surcharges on services between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macau from 01-Feb-2011. Other international carriers that have increased surcharges on Hong Kong and Macau services in Feb-2011 include Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Express and Air Macau.
China Southern and Air China increase fuel surcharges
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As Cathay Pacific is being forced to undergo a competitive metamorphosis it is exploring all options. The latest example is an expected announcement of a new Cathay Pacific route from Hong Kong to Christchurch in New Zealand's South Island. The service is expected to be seasonal (for the New Zealand summer), and is only Cathay's second seasonal long haul route after the Jan-2017 announcement of northern summer service to Barcelona.
New Zealand is a small network component for Cathay but one of its last strongholds, due to a joint venture with Air New Zealand. The New Zealand government reluctantly extended approval for the JV despite Cathay and Air NZ reneging on an offer to use it to link Hong Kong with Christchurch, as well as Auckland. This would thereby have extended the JV to benefit more of New Zealand – a sensitive local matter based on the assertion that Auckland was receiving disproportionate air service benefit.
Air NZ's JV with Cathay arch rival Singapore Airlines has resulted in SIA growing its presence in Christchurch. Cathay has been more frugal, and the NZ government determined that although the JV reduced competition, there was no prospective third competitor, so no harm done.
But now that Hong Kong Airlines has entered Auckland, and then expanded, the Cathay-Air NZ JV faces disbanding. By finally committing to a Christchurch route Cathay appears to be bidding to keep the JV in play. But the New Zealand government will still probably withdraw approval of the Air NZ-Cathay JV.
Chinese New Year air traffic a boon to airlines but reflects challenges of year-round sustainability
The Chinese New Year travel season, billed as the world's largest migration, once again fills the headlines with astounding numbers of passenger movements. Some airlines set maximums on pricing, for fear of being seen as price gouging if revenue management systems followed their normal pricing curve upwards.
Even the most sceptical investors would be forgiving for contemplating airline ownership during the travel rush. The question, and lurking problem, is what happens the rest of the year.
China's concentrated and en masse travel periods present a challenge for sustainability. Airlines local and foreign are often reduced to hoping that routes will be annually profitable based on a few weeks of travel during Chinese New Year, the brief summer peak, and the autumn holidays. With load factors consistently high, yields are weakened, either on point-to-point traffic or as Chinese airlines aggressively discount connecting/transfer traffic.
On a volume basis, international traffic remains strong, expanding by an estimated 9.3 million passengers in 2016 for 22% growth. Chinese airlines continue to pivot to the international market, and Air China now has more capacity internationally than domestically.