China’s airlines now growing faster internationally than domestically

China’s two biggest airlines have both started new long-haul flights to North America this summer. In June, China Eastern Airlines began serving Toronto Pearson from Shanghai Pudong, while just this week China Southern Airlines touched down in New York, with its record-breaking 12,900-kilometre service from Guangzhou.

Chinese airlines have seen their passenger numbers increase by 11.5% to 155.4 million in the first five months of 2014. Figures from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) reveal that international traffic (+16.5%) is now growing faster than domestic traffic (+11.1%). With Chinese New Year reverting back to January in 2014, year-on-year growth was around 20% for both international and domestic traffic that month, whereas in January 2013 there was virtually no growth. Despite some concerns about the rate of growth of the Chinese economy, there are no signs at present that this is impacting on the rate of growth for air travel.

Chart -Chinese airlines development Year-on-year change in passengers: 2007 to 5/2014

Source: CAAC.

Lucky Air and Shenzhen Airlines growing fastest in August

Analysis of Innovata / Diio Mi schedule data for August 2014 currently indicates that total seat capacity for all airlines at Chinese airports is up 9.6% compared with the same month last year. Broken down at the airline level growth rates among the country’s top 15 airlines varies between just 3.3% (Spring Airlines) and 20.2% (Lucky Air), with Shenzhen Airlines the only other carrier growing at more than 15%.

Chart - Top 15 airlines at Chinese airports Aweekly departing seats from Chinese airports in Aug 14 (Change from Aug 13 to Aug 14)

Source: Innovata / Diio Mi for w/c 11 August 2014 and w/c 12 August 2013.

Paris CDG to get new services from China Eastern Airlines and Hainan Airlines

New international routes scheduled to start between now and early 2015 by Chinese airlines include:

  • China Eastern Airlines: Kunming to Paris CDG (1 October, to be confirmed)
  • China Southern Airlines: Shenzhen to Seoul Incheon (27 August)
  • Hainan Airlines: Xi’an to Paris CDG (3 September)
  • Xiamen Airlines: Hangzhou to Da Nang (4 September)

New international routes starting between now and early 2015 by non-Chinese airlines include:

  • AirAsia X: Kuala Lumpur to Chongqing (13 February 2015)
  • Jeju Air: Seoul Incheon to Shijiazhuang (22 August)
  • United Airlines: Guam to Shanghai Pudong (28 October)


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