Chinese airlines set to increase long-haul flights

2024-06-20 Editor : Mo Honge ECNS App Download

Domestic carriers are ramping up efforts to launch more long-haul, intercontinental routes, with the European market becoming their top choice.

Shanghai-based private airliner Juneyao Air will launch two new intercontinental flights next month, ThePaper reported on Wednesday. The direct flights between Shanghai and Manchester in the United Kingdom will begin on July 1, while the Shanghai-Brussels route starts operating on July 3.

This comes after direct flights between Shanghai and Athens, Greece, was launched by the carrier on April 2.

According to Juneyao Air's operation plan during this year's summer-autumn aviation season, the carrier's European destinations have further expanded to some countries in Western Europe. The number of long-haul, intercontinental routes will reach six, covering Finland, the UK, Belgium, Italy and Greece in northern, western and southern Europe.

The opening of new intercontinental routes can fully enhance the company's international operation and global services, Cheng Xi, general manager of commercial department at Juneyao Air, told ThePaper.

Since the Shanghai-Athens route was launched in April, the passenger load factor has reached nearly 70 percent during off-season, Cheng said, adding there's still ample room for more growth.

"In the upcoming summer vacation, the load factor for the international market is predicted to rise further."

Juneyao Air is not alone. Several domestic carriers also plan to develop more long-haul, intercontinental routes to Europe during the new aviation season.

According to the plan for summer-autumn aviation season of this year, Air China plans to run an average of 201 international and regional flights every day, recovering to 84 percent of 2019 levels.

For China Eastern Airlines, the number of planned international and regional flights amount to more than 1,240 every week, resuming to 90.8 percent of 2019 levels. The number of flights to Europe, Oceania and the Middle East has exceeded the 2019 levels.

China is reconstructing the network of intercontinental routes, and the share of airline capacity to the countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, such as Europe and Southeast Asia, will increase, Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst, told ThePaper.

Normally, international short-haul routes are more profitable, Lin said, adding that some intercontinental routes run at a loss due to high cost. At present, international routes are still in the recovery phase, he said.

As the summer travel is around the corner, the civil aviation sector will enter the peak season.

Data from Flight Master, a travel services platform in China, showed that during this year's summer travel season, the international market of the civil aviation is expected to recover to around 80 percent of 2019 levels. Southeast Asia and East Asia will still be the popular destinations, with flights accounting for 76.2 percent of the total.

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