China to Europe sees highest YOY growth; Shanghai – Iceland coming

Air China launches Shanghai to Barcelona route

Air China is the number-one airline between China and Europe in 2019. One route still going strong for Air China is its three-weekly Shanghai Pudong to Barcelona. Air China also operates a three-weekly Beijing – Barcelona service.

In 2019, 8.3 million total seats were offered between China and Europe. Ten years later, 21.2 million are provided, up 2.4 million over 2018. This YOY jump is the largest increase between China and Europe.  There is no doubt that China – Europe is a fast-growing market.

China - Europe 21 million seats highest ever YOY growth

Source: OAG Schedules Analyser.

China to Europe: the highest absolute YOY growth

2019 was especially strong because six additional Chinese airports and six more European airports saw service versus 2018.  This year, over 50 new routes exist (or will begin by the end of December).  The top-10 additions in 2019 by capacity are as follows.  The importance of Chinese airlines and ‘secondary’ Chinese airports is clear.

  • Helsinki – Shanghai Pudong: Juneyao Airlines
  • Chengdu – Istanbul IST: Sichuan Airlines
  • Chengdu – London Heathrow: Air China
  • Istanbul Airport – Wuhan: China Southern
  • Hangzhou – Rome Fiumicino: Air China
  • Vienna – Urumqi: China Southern
  • Guangzhou – Moscow Domodedovo: IrAero
  • Helsinki – Jinan: Tibet Airlines
  • Chengdu – Rome Fiumicino: Sichuan Airlines
  • Paris CDG – Qingdao: China Eastern

New routes in 2019 also include those starting just before 2020, such as Shanghai Airlines to Budapest from Chengdu and Xian – supplementing its new Budapest – Shanghai Pudong – and Hainan Airlines from Haikou to Moscow Sheremetyevo. 

China to Europe: 48 European airports, 34 Chinese

In 2019, China to Europe involves 48 European airports and 34 Chinese airports.  In Europe, and on an airport-pair basis, Moscow Sheremetyevo is the number-one airport to/from China, with nearly three million seats to/from 26 Chinese airports. Sheremetyevo only became first in 2017, when it had nine airlines and 14 Chinese airports, up from seven airlines and 10 airports in 2016.

Chinese airport Two-way seats in 2019 Number of European airports in 2019 European airport 2019 two-way seats Number of Chinese airports in 2019
Beijing Capital 7.8 million 37 Moscow Sheremetyevo 2.9 million 26
Shanghai Pudong 6.7 million 21 Paris CDG 2.8 million 13
Guangzhou 1.7 million 12 London LHR 2.3 million 14
Chengdu 818,000 15 Frankfurt 2.2 million 9
Shenzhen 564,000 11 Amsterdam 1.5 million 6
Xian 463,000 11 Rome FCO 988,000 11
Wuhan 363,000 5 Istanbul IST 966,000 7
Nanjing 265,000 4 Helsinki 863,000 9
Chongqing 259,000 6 Munich 794,000 2
Qingdao 247,000 4 Madrid 557,000 6
Source: OAG Schedules Analyser. This is for all of 2019, so it might include routes that have been discontinued. Istanbul IST is included as Europe as it is on the European side of Turkey.

Iceland coming

Juneyao Airlines began a daily Shanghai Pudong – Helsinki service in June 2019 with a codeshare arrangement with Finnair. Its schedule meant eight hours on the ground in Helsinki.  Despite its recent start, Juneyao is already changing it.  For summer 2020, it’ll offer the following:

Shanghai Pudong via Helsinki to… Frequency Aircraft Start date
Dublin Twice-weekly B787-9 29th March 2020
Keflavik Twice-weekly B787-9 31st March 2020
Manchester Three-weekly B787-9 30th March 2020

Iceland saw nearly 100,000 Chinese tourists in 2018.  In the past year, about 40,000 connected between China and Iceland, but this doesn’t include those on separate tickets to/from Iceland. Shanghai Pudong was the number-one Chinese airport, with almost half of all through passengers, primarily connecting in Helsinki (Finnair) and Copenhagen (SAS).


  1. Sebastian says:

    Interesting overview, which backs the perception that these two markets are literally getting more and more connected.

    Crunching up those numbers mentioned a bit more, it is interesting to see that: a/ MUC has by far the highest average number of seats per destination, b/ all Chinese cities except for PEK, PVG and CAN have a low number of average daily one-way seats per carrier indicating low weekly frequencies to European destinations and c/ that European traffic in / out of China is heavily concentrated on the three main gateways as in opposition to Europe, which features a more equal spread.

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