Chinese airlines commencing operations after June 2019 will have to be based at airports in so-called Tier 2 cities as gateways in the country’s first-tier cities, including Shanghai Pudong, Shanghai Hongquio, Guangzhou Baiyun and Shenzhen Bao’an, and Beijing Capital airports are at critical points or even slot-exhausted.
According to an official of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), Shi Wu, new carriers will have to be located at Tier 2 airports not only to ease congestion at the main airports but also due to the congested airspace.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth, speaking in Brussels on Tuesday, said the “good news in China is that they are building some 100 new airports.” But he noted, the Chinese authorities are not doing a lot to improve the management of the country's airspace.
“Airlines operating at Tier 2 airports will help boost passenger growth and open more routes, especially to the less developed western region,” Shi said. Tier 2 city airports are in Hangzhou, Nanjing, Jinan, Qingdao, Chongqing, Dalian, Ningbo, Xiamen, Chengdu, Wuhan, Harbin, Shenyang, Changsha, Zhengzhou, and Fuzhou.
To address the primary airport capacity crunch, Beijing will have a second international facility when the new airport in Daxing opens in October 2019.
“Opening of Beijing Daxing Airport would ease congestion at BCIA [Beijing Capital] and create slots as some Chinese and foreign airlines will have their operations moved to the former,” Shi said. Airlines that have operations at BCIA and want to increase flights to the Chinese capital would be given preference for additional slots.
China’s civil aviation market is growing at a rapid rate. Its airlines collectively carried 589 million passengers in 2017, up 42 percent from 2013. They are expected to top 600 million passengers this year. China is currently the second biggest after the U.S. in terms of passengers to, from, and within the country, but according to IATA forecasts, the country is projected to overtake the U.S. in 2025 and become the largest air travel market in the world.
Chinese airlines currently have a combined fleet of about 3,100 aircraft, with the China Southern Airlines Group alone operating 800 units. Both Airbus and Boeing are bullish about the growth potential of the market, and Boeing in September raised its previous long-term outlook for China to 6.2 percent. According to the U.S. OEM, Chinese airlines will buy 7,690 new airplanes over the next two decades to 2037 and Airbus is forecasting that China will require a total of 7,400 new passenger airplanes and freighters in the next 20 years, taking up 19 percent of the global demand for world's commercial aircraft fleet. Boeing delivered 202 aircraft to Chinese airlines in 2017, compared to 176 by Airbus.