Wuhan Airport set to pass 20 million mark in 2016; only long-haul routes are to Dubai, Gold Coast, Moscow, Paris, Rome and San Francisco

Wuhan Airport set to pass 20 million mark in 2016-1

In September 2015 Jetstar Airways launched the first service from an Australian airport to Wuhan. Flights to Gold Coast Airport are operated twice-weekly by Qantas’s low-cost subsidiary using 787-8s. A second Australian service, this time to Sydney, is scheduled to start in January 2017, operated by China Eastern Airlines.

Wuhan Tianhe International Airport is set to become the 13th Chinese airport to handle 20 million passengers in a single year. Last year the airport reported almost 18.9 million passengers through its terminals, an increase of almost 10% on 2014. Wuhan, the biggest city in central China, has a population of over 10 million people and is the capital of the Hubei province. Passenger numbers at the airport have more than doubled in the last seven years. As recently as 2003 the airport, which opened in 1995, was handling just 3.3 million passengers. According to OAG data, 91% of the airport’s seat capacity in 2015 was on domestic Chinese routes, while a further 2% were to Hong Kong and Taiwan. Thailand, with 3% of seat capacity, is by far the largest international market. For 2016 these shares have remained virtually unchanged.

Chart: Wuhan Tianhe International Arport Annual passengers (millions) and year-on-year growth

Source: CAAC.

China Southern Airlines is biggest carrier at Wuhan

This summer almost 40 airlines served Wuhan. SkyTeam member China Southern Airlines is the biggest carrier at the airport accounting for around 31% of weekly seat capacity. Fellow SkyTeam member China Eastern Airlines is second with around 20% of seats, followed by Star Alliance carrier Air China with 8%. The top 12 airlines are all based in mainland China with Thai AirAsia the leading foreign carrier, operating three flights per day from the airport, two to Bangkok and one to Phuket. Since August 2015 a number of airlines have begun serving Wuhan for the first time. These include AirAsia, All Nippon Airways, China Express Airlines, Jetstar Airways, Jetstar Pacific Airlines, Lion Air, Malindo Air, Mandarin Airlines, Ruilli Airlines, Spring Airlines Japan and Urumqi Airlines.

Chart: Top 13 airlines at Wuhan Airport in S16 Weekly departures in August 2016 (Destinations served: Domestic/International)

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser for w/c 1 August 2016.

At least four carriers competing on 12 of the top 15 routes

The top 15 destinations from Wuhan are all served with at least seven daily flights on weekdays. The busiest route is the 1,053-kilometre sector to Beijing which is served with 15 daily flights operated by four carriers. Impressively, 12 of the top 15 routes are served by at least four different airlines. Only the route to Shanghai Hongqiao is served by fewer than three airlines, with China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines being the only choices for passengers wanting to travel between these two airports. According to OAG data, a total of 80 destinations were served non-stop with at least three weekly flights in the first week of August 2016

Wuhan Airport set to pass 20 million mark in 2016

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser for w/c 1 August 2016.

Thailand is by far the best served international market with flights to both Bangkok airports, as well as Chiang Mai, Krabi, Phuket and Surat Thani. There are international services to several other major destinations in nearby countries including Jeju, Kota Kinabalu, Macau, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei and Tokyo. The airport’s range of long-haul services is currently limited to just six; Air France began non-stop flights from Paris in April 2012, China Southern Airlines began Moscow Sheremetyevo flights in July 2014, followed by the first US service to San Francisco in December 2014. Jetstar Airways began flights to Gold Coast in Australia on 29 September 2015, while China Southern began a non-stop service to Rome on 16 December 2015, followed by a Dubai service on 12 January 2016. Looking ahead, China Eastern Airlines is set to launch a non-stop service to Sydney in January 2017.

Wuhan Airport set to pass 20 million mark in 2016

While Emirates does not yet serve Wuhan from Dubai, in January 2016 China Southern Airlines began a non-stop service to the biggest airport in the UAE.

Wuhan Airport set to pass 20 million mark in 2016

Around 90% of Wuhan’s seat capacity is on domestic services. The route whose final destination cannot be seen on this map is San Francisco, a route operated by China Southern Airlines since December 2014. At present there are no regular scheduled services to Cambodia, India, Myanmar or the Philippines.


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