Analysis of data provided by Sabre Market Intelligence shows that airlines with an Air Operator’s Certificate issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China collectively carried 589 million passengers in 2017, a massive 42% increase on the total in 2013.
During the first half of this year, preliminary statistics show that China-registered carriers flew 304 million passengers on domestic and international routes, compared with 278 million in the first six months of 2017. The figure means airlines are on course to carry more than 600 million passengers in 2018.
A burgeoning domestic market has been a major source of growth, with the number of passengers travelling on routes starting and ending in mainland China rising by 45% between 2013 and 2017 to 523 million.
Historically, China’s domestic market has dwarfed international services, but airlines have been rapidly stretching their wings in recent years.
Long-haul growth is being boosted by Chinese carriers seeking to tap into outbound tourism demand and by large government subsidies. Such financial support gives carriers a competitive advantage over international rivals.
In 2018 Indonesia will be among the largest international growth markets for China. The booming Thai market is also expected to deliver significant growth, with China Southern adding flights to Bangkok from Shenyang and Ürümqi Diwopu, as well as Wuhan - Phuket.
Growth in long-haul demand this year will mainly come from Western Europe. New routes launched include China Southern’s three-weekly Wuhan - London Heathrow and Tianjin Airlines to London Gatwick from Xi’an twice weekly.
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