Zhejiang Loong Airlines Takes to the Air with Airbus Order

New Chinese passenger carrier Zhejiang Loong Airlines launched commercial operations on December 29, 2013 and celebrated with the confirmation of an order with European manufacturer Airbus for 20 A320 Family aircraft.  The former freight business is offering domestic passenger flights from Hangzhou’s Xiaoshan International Airport in the Yangtze River Delta region of China using a single Airbus A320 leased from Capital Airlines.

The airline has initially launched flights on routes linking Hangzhou with Chongqing and Shenzhen and is also offering flights to Chengdu and Wuhan, with a link to Guangzhou following from January 5, 2014 as a second passenger aircraft joins the fleet.  It plans to serve other first tier cities in China with Changsha, Changchun, Kunming, Xiamen and Xi'an all expected to be added to the network in the future.

Zhejiang Loong plans to add a further four passenger aircraft to its fleet during the first half of 2014 ahead of the delivery of its brand new aircraft from Airbus.  The airline signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the European manufacturer at the Beijing Airshow in September and formalised this agreement at its launch.  The deal comprises a commitment for eleven A320ceo and nine A320neo aircraft.  These aircraft will initially replace the leased equipment but could also support growth into regional and international routes over the next three to five years.

“Today is a special day for Zhejiang Loong Airlines as we start passenger operation and order 20 Airbus A320 Family aircraft, which demonstrates our ambition to contribute to the economic and social development of Zhejiang province by providing efficient transportation,” said Liu Qihong, chairman, Zhejiang Loong Airlines.

“We are making efforts to play a more important role in building the four-hour transportation circle around Hangzhou, which is advocated by the Zhejiang Government. The Airbus A320 Family aircraft is ideal for us to achieve our goals with advantages in operational reliability, economics, cabin space and its commonality between different types of Airbus aircraft,” he added.

Zhejiang Loong plans to become the prominent carrier at Xiaoshan International Airport which is located on the southern shore of the Qiantang River in Xiaoshan District, approximately 30km east of downtown Hangzhou.  It will face strong competition on all of its initial routes with the Hangzhou – Guangzhou market already served by eight operators and the other routes by at least four other carriers.

In 2012, Xiaoshan International Airport handled 19,115,320 passengers, ranking it as the 10th busiest airport in China.  This represented a rise of 9.2 per cent over the traffic levels recorded in 2011 and up 63.0 per cent over the past five years.  In the table below we look in greater detail at capacity at Xiaoshan International Airport in 2013, a market currently dominated by Air China, China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines as Hangzhou is a focus city for these carriers.

SCHEDULED AIR CAPACITY FROM HANGZHOU XIAOSHAN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (non-stop departures; 2013)

Rank

Operator

Seat Capacity

% Capacity Share

1

Air China (CA)

2,485,047

17.4 %

2

China Southern Airlines (CZ)

2,396,222

16.8 %

3

Xiamen Airlines (MF)

1,873,832

13.1 %

4

China Eastern Airlines (MU)

1,637,874

11.5 %

5

Hainan Airlines (HU)

973,140

6.8 %

6

Shandong Airlines (SC)

607,252

4.3 %

7

Shenzhen Airlines (ZH)

490,821

3.4 %

8

Beijing Capital Airlines (JD)

459,494

3.2 %

9

Sichuan Airlines (3U)

403,090

2.8 %

10

Shanghai Airlines (FM)

365,961

2.6 %

TOTAL

14,284,012

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