Chinese airlines feel pressure from high-speed rail
China's Ministry of Railways stated the rapidly expanding high-speed rail network will increase the pressure on the country's roads in the coming holiday travel peak period while CAAC Deputy Head Wang Changshun stated the network has already forced airlines to withdraw from some short-haul sectors (Xinhua, 12-Jan-2011). For example, the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway has handled 20.6 million passengers since its opening in Dec-2009 while the number of services between Changsha and Guangzhou have been reduced from an average 11.5 flights per day to three flights per day in the period. Hainan Airlines and Shenzhen Airlines have withdrawn from the market, leaving only China Southern Airlines. Fares on the sector have been reduced by 15% but passenger numbers have still declined by 48% to 390,000 during 2010. Mr Wang added that the opening of the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line next year will be "another blow to the air transport industry". About 5149km of high-speed track was put into service in 2010, increasing the nation's rail network to 8358km, the world's longest.