Xiamen Airlines to formally join SkyTeam Alliance on 21-Nov-2012
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China and Australia remove airline growth restrictions as China cautiously embraces open skies
China has agreed to liberalise passenger flights and remove capacity restrictions with Australia, its largest outbound long haul market after the United States. This is a relief to Chinese airlines, which face bilateral constraints in North America and Europe. The result is already evident as Chinese airlines deploy more capacity and larger aircraft to Australia.
In North American and European markets the local governments hold back on traffic right expansion (let alone open skies). But for Australia it was the Australian government, which signalled some years ago that it wanted to liberalise once China was ready – a time that has now come.
Australia's view was progressive and detached from bygone days of national carrier interest; Chinese airlines hold 90% of the market to Australia. Elsewhere many governments still hold back on Chinese traffic right expansion so their local airlines can continue to grow. There are 15 Chinese airports that have nonstop flights to Australia with a total of 27 airport pairs – figures that should expand in 2017 as the market evolves further with the Virgin Australia-HNA partnership.
Philippines-China air service growth to lift Philippines' Chinese tourism as Duterte changes horses
First bananas, then people. China's lifting of a trade ban against bananas from the Philippines bodes well for aviation. Relations between China and the Philippines turned negative in 2012. The issue was primarily over China's claims to uninhabited islands – a debate that also caused China-Japan relations to turn sour. China banned Filipino banana imports and issued a travel warning against the Philippines. Travel warnings from China carry more weight than in other markets since state-owned/linked travel agencies essentially stop selling the impacted market. Diplomatic rows have resulted in drastic reductions in outbound passenger flows from China.
Japan has more than recovered but the Philippines' underexposure to China is well evident: the Philippines has received the least number of Chinese tourists in Asia. Laos and Cambodia, far smaller than the Philippines, each received more Chinese tourists than the Philippines.
New Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte is pivoting Manila's allegiance away from the US – to China. His presidency is young and the calculation has its sceptics, but China appears to be warming. Following the lifting of its ban on banana trade, China is expected to use President Duterte's visit to Beijing to lift its travel warning against the Philippines. This will likely stimulate large air service growth between China and the Philippines. Yet for existing markets, there is some concern that the Philippines presents new competition.