China’s Sichuan Development and Reform Commission director and National People’s Congress deputy director Tang Limin stated the proposed new Chengdu Airport will have five runways and will have capacity to handle 80 million passengers p/a, more than twice the capacity of Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, which has two runways and capacity for 38 million passengers p/a. According to Carnoc.com, construction work on the new airport is expected to be completed by the end of 2017 and commence operations in 2018. Passenger numbers at Chendu Shuangliu is forecasted to reach saturation by 2015/2016, according to Mr Tang.
New Chengdu Airport to open in 2018, Chengdu Shuangliu to reach saturation by 2015/2016
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Chinese long haul secondary city air routes: BA's Chengdu exit does not reflect the broader market
The fastest long haul airline growth is not occurring with Gulf airlines but rather, with services to and from secondary Chinese cities. It is not a secret that local incentives and subsidies, generally common in any market, are especially large in price and duration for secondary Chinese cities. An airline might expect over a third of revenues to be subsidised. This drastically alters the business case in a low-margin industry, hence the proliferation of secondary city services. This extreme dependence on subsidies raises the question of how long governments are willing to issue generous subsidies, and how many routes can be sustainable without them.
British Airways' decision to exit its only secondary Chinese route to Chengdu, in Jan-2017, might suggest the music is ending and the secondary long haul bubble is popping. There is added colour given the recent UK-China air service agreement expansion, and Brexit/British pound depreciation overhangs.
BA's exit does confirm market fundamentals: secondary city yields are low, and some routes are ahead of their time. Yet a number of factors unique to British Airways suggest caution in concluding that BA's Chengdu exit could foreshadow other withdrawals.
Airports - subject as always to the vicarious uncertainty of airline fortunes
CAPA’s 2016 outlook was against a background of unusually high levels of profitability for airlines.