Chinese carriers have accelerated their international expansion pace as outbound travel continues to grow.
In October, Beijing-based Air China experienced an 18.6% year-over-year (YOY) growth in RPKs on international routes. Shanghai-based China Eastern reported a 30.4% YOY growth; Guangzhou-based China Southern posted a 23.9% YOY growth; and Haikou-based Hainan Airlines saw a 47.4% YOY growth.
Air China transported 11.2 million passengers on international routes in October, up 23.2% YOY; China Eastern, 12.1 million, up 17.2% YOY; China Southern, 11.6 million, up 19.1% YOY; and Hainan Airlines, 18.7 million, up 57% YOY.
In September, domestic airlines transported 4.2 million passengers on international routes, up 19.9% YOY, which outpaced a 13% growth on domestic routes.
Hainan opened 2X-weekly Xi’an-Sydney and Changsha-Sydney routes in September and 2X-weekly Haikou-Da Nang services in October.
China Eastern opened 13 international routes in the 1H and two more European routes to St. Petersburg and Madrid, in addition to boosting flight frequencies on routes to Europe and the US.
Industry analysts point out domestic airlines still need to face severe challenges including overcapacity; shortage of slots and aviation professionals, such as pilots and MRO staff; and should focus more on profits than market shares when they speed up their international expansion pace.