The Battle For International Routes At Beijing’s New Daxing Airport

Restrictions on resources and policies have been the biggest obstacle to most of China’s airlines, entering Beijing, one of China’s most attractive aviation hubs. However, with the completion of Daxing International Airport, the resource restrictions are obviously no longer a major problem. In order to increase the volume of the new airport as soon as possible, the industry regulators also encourage airlines to adopt a series of new policies in air resource allocation to allow as many routes and capacity as possible to the new airport, this has also led to fierce competition around the operation of the new intercontinental routes.

Four airlines compete for “Daxing-Paris”

On March 20th, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (hereinafter referred to as the Civil Aviation Authority) announced the latest application for international airline operating licenses. The most striking of these is that Beijing Daxing-Paris has four airlines applying at the same time, including not only China Eastern Airlines Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as China Eastern Airlines), which is considered to be the most likely to obtain the right to operate this route, and China Southern Airlines Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as China Southern Airlines), which has long decided to develop Daxing Airport as its core hub. It also includes the private airline Juneyao Airlines Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Juneyao Airlines), which is based in Shanghai, and Beijing Capital Airlines Co., Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as Capital Airlines).

This is also a new change that has begun to appear on the application of popular route resources since the implementation of the new measures for the use and management of International Air Rights in October last year. According to the new rules, the international routes are divided into two categories, category one and two, and gradually break the unwritten “one route and one carrier” rule on the previous intercontinental line. In particular, the European routes are classified into the second category. Resources and openness are all greater, so there are more opportunities.

China and France have previously increased the number of weekly flights from no more than 50 to 126 through new air rights negotiations, which has greatly released the space chosen by airlines, and has made France the most popular in Europe. The tourist destination is able to accommodate more new routes. According to the newly announced route application, including the newly opened route and the additional flights, the airlines have proposed a new application for 72 flights per week. The departure airport includes Nanchang, in addition to the first-line hubs such as Beijing and Shanghai. Direct flights from sub-junctions such as Wenzhou and Nanjing, the destination has also expanded from Paris to a destination that includes direct flights to Nice and Marseille.

“The special thing about Daxing Airport is that many companies hope to use this as an important point for future development, so there will be a lot of companies applying for new routes here,” said Liu Wei, deputy general manager of China Eastern Airlines Beijing Branch on March 18. In an exclusive interview with the reporter of China Times, “but the air traffic distribution policy is continuous, which also determines the concept of the main base airline is different, so the state will still consider these problems when assigning navigation rights to Daxing Airport.”

At present, according to the Daxing Airport air rights distribution plan, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines respectively obtained a 40% share. Compared with the two airlines currently established on the domestic route network, how can they win more international routes at Daxing Airport become a key issue. Judging from the recent application of several international airline operating licenses issued by the Civil Aviation Authority, the two companies have already competed in this tit-for-tat.

In addition to the Beijing Daxing-Paris route, the two companies have also applied for both Moscow and several South Korean routes. As the new airport’s opening date is approaching, there will definitely be more new routes to become the focus of competition.

There also has been the problem that it is impossible for all airlines to obtain the qualifications for airline operations. “If the air rights application before the new regulations is that the airlines have done a lot of preparatory work in the early stage, they already know the results.” After the application is applied, it is basically not likely to be rejected. Now, after introducing the scoring mechanism and publicity, there may be some variables, which makes the airline dare to try.” A person from the marketing department told the China Times reporter.

In Liu Wei’s view, “Daxing Airport will take into account some factors in the process of air rights allocation. In addition to the hard indicators of the on-time rate of flights, which airlines have played a major role in the construction of the new airport, and which airlines have the ability to weave networks, and which are more suitable for point-to-point operations, which will be a factor to consider.”

The current “Measures for the Administration of the Allocation and Use of International Air Rights Resources” also clearly states that when two or more airlines compete for the same right to operate in accordance with the navigation rights regulations, the Civil Aviation Administration will comprehensively evaluate the four types of indicator to determine the allocation. Including consumer interest indicators, hub development indicators, resource use efficiency indicators and business performance quality indicators.

China Eastern Airlines’ dual hub ambition

Although the ownership of many popular international routes has not yet been finalized, the strategic intention of CEA in Beijing has actually begun to appear.

According to a set of data released at the Beijing route promotion meeting held on March 18th, China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai Airlines and China United Airlines carried 20 million passengers in Beijing in 2018, accounting for one-fifth of the Beijing market throughput. Among them, only the Beijing-Shanghai route, China Eastern Airlines can provide 7,500 seats per day, more than half of the total capacity of 12,000 seats per day.

During the interviews with the media during the two sessions of the country, Liu Shaoyong also made it clear that the construction and operation of Daxing Airport is a major historic opportunity for China Eastern Airlines and will open a new stage for the future development of China Eastern Airlines.

Liu Shaoyong said in an interview with the media that he would “use the power of the whole company to force the Beijing market and transform the two core hubs of Shanghai and Beijing into a spatial pattern of ‘two dragons going out to sea’.”

It is not difficult to see the ambition of China Eastern Airlines in the international business of Daxing Airport from the “going out to sea”. Although China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines had start-ups in Beijing earlier, they have not had too many opportunities in the international business of long-haul routes. Although China Eastern has a total of 13 international routes originating in Beijing, it is mostly in Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea. If you want to connect to Europe and the United States, you still need to dock other domestic destinations or share code with partners.

In fact, China Southern Airlines and even more other medium-sized airlines obviously have the same idea. Otherwise, there will be no competition for four airlines on the Paris route. For the mainstream purpose of the first release from Daxing Airport like Paris. Local resources, whoever can succeed will also take the lead in the layout of the new airport.

Liu Wei told this reporter that “Paris is the main hub of the SkyTeam Alliance. It is obviously more suitable for the members of the SkyTeam Alliance to fly. There are strong partners in the local area. The competitiveness of non-alliance partners will decline. It will also appear in other hubs. A similar situation.”

According to the plan announced by China Eastern Airlines, 200 large and medium-sized passenger aircrafts will be put into operation at Daxing Airport, and routes connecting the America, Europe, Oceania, Southeast Asia, Japan and South Korea, and Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan regions of China will be opened.

As Liu Shaoyong disclosed before: “According to the market share of Beijing Daxing International Airport’s passenger throughput of 72 million in 2025 and China Eastern Airlines’ 40% market share, we will carry more than 28.8 million passengers at Daxing International Airport. The passenger traffic at the airport is equivalent of what we have in Shanghai Pudong, which is the largest increase in the future development of China Eastern Airlines.”

Albert Aviation

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