China’s Love for Europe!
The excellent Second China – Europe Aviation Summit, hosted by the Institute for Aviation Research (IAR), has just finished in Beijing and one thing was very clear - the Chinese Airlines and travellers love Europe.
The statistics around market growth are compelling: Some 17% growth in demand in the last year, and planned fleet growth amongst the major Chinese carriers that dwarfs anything else happening on the planet. But it’s what the future holds that’s the incredible part. Here are some snippets…
Firstly, if you’re a European airport, there’s very good news. Chinese carriers expect no further growth to services to the United States in the next few years; apparently, some breakdown in trust thing! Australasia is covered like a bad heat rash. So, it’s a bit of a “clear run” for expansion to Europe but as always things can change quickly so there’s no room for complacency.
Secondly, some bi-laterals are full and seemingly there is no desire for that to change. Germany, for instance, has no further capacity and with Air China and Lufthansa sitting on the market there is no will for change. This is such a shame when markets such as Hamburg could very probably support an air service to China service. France is another market where bi-laterals are stuck, though maybe this doesn’t matter in a country that loves a summer strike.
“Tier two” Chinese cities are where much of the action is occurring. Shenzhen will see five new European markets served this year and Chengdu, Wuhan and Chongqing are all on the radar for more services. Access to that most valuable of Russian airspace also seems OK for the next two years, at least it is according to one Chinese airline.
There could be as many as another twenty new city pairs close to launching in the next three years many of which would connect those second-tier airports and I guess that is no surprise given their size. With most Tier Two airports having passenger volumes of over 30 million and population bases of over 9 million there is almost an inevitability about their growth.
And then of course there’s Daxing. The new Beijing Airport is rapidly nearing completion. The relaxation of the “one route – one airline” policy has been announced and one major carrier has shared an intent at the Summit to launch a Beijing – Heathrow service alongside the incumbent Air China operation. That development may also have a seismic impact on the alliance networks around the world - guess which one!
So there is a lot happening but perhaps the most important take-way from the event was China itself.
Emergent market segments, high value leisure travellers, exciting e-commerce platforms, significant policy changes, a hunger for European education, more aircraft and an openness to partner. The China – Europe Summit once again confirmed one thing; you need to be in market, smell and taste the options and make the most of the opportunity. China really does see and love the European market now. Grab it while you can!
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