China’s secondary airlines plan long haul growth. 10 airlines to have widebody aircraft

Chinese airlines have finally kick-started international growth, expanding 37% in the first eight months of 2015. This equates to an additional 7.38 million passengers in 8M2015 compared to 8M2014. This almost equals the 7.39m passengers Chinese carriers added between 8M2010 and 8M2014. The volume growth Chinese carriers used to achieve over four years is now being achieved over just a single year.

With countries continuing to liberalise visas for Chinese nationals, and the Chinese government directing airlines to expand internationally, this faster international growth is the new norm. Although most international Chinese traffic is short haul, the accelerated growth is seen with long haul expansion: Sichuan Airlines launched long haul flights in 2012 and not another Chinese carrier went long haul until Xiamen Airlines in Jul-2015. Beijing Capital Airlines followed in Sep-2015, and 2016 could see two more airlines – Tianjin Airlines and Tibet Airlines – fly long haul. 2016 will see at least 10 Chinese airlines operate widebody aircraft. This report looks at the long haul growth from China’s secondary carriers that will increasingly become intercontinental names.

The second tier airlines reviewed, Tibet Airlines and Shenzhen Airlines are new arrivals on the long haul international scene.

Three Chinese airlines – Air China, China Eastern and China Southern – today operate 77% of China’s widebody aircraft. But as smaller airlines and secondary airports become more active internationally, the scene is changing. A 37% increase in international passengers carried in the first 8 months of 2015 bears testimony to the potential that is waiting to be unleashd.

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