China Eastern in Talks to Link Kunming to Europe

According to reports in China, China Eastern Airlines is considering launching a three times weekly link to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport using an Airbus A330-300, significantly enhancing connectivity to Yunnan province in the far southwest of China.

China Eastern Airlines is understood to be studying the launch of the first long-haul international service to Europe from Kunming’s Changshui International Airport in China’s Yunnan province.  According to reports in China the carrier intends to launch a three times weekly link to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport using an Airbus A330-300, significantly enhancing connectivity to the expanding region in the far southwest of the country.

Kunming Changshui International Airport is currently the seventh busiest airport in China in terms of passengers and the fifth busiest airport in terms of aircraft movements. However, although it has a strong domestic network offering and links to major cities across Asia, it currently has no direct flights outside of the region. In 2013 around 2.17 million passengers flew on international flights from the facility (up 31 per cent on the previous year), less than eight per cent of the total 29.7 million passengers (up 23.8% on 2012) handled by the airport.

The airport’s management and owners Yunnan Airport Group have been working to establish long-haul links from Kunming for the past couple of years and earlier this year at Routes Asia in Kuching, Malaysia had confirmed to The HUB plans to establish direct air links into Europe and North America, supporting the increase demand for access to these two regions.

To support its network expansion Yunnan Airport Group will be hosting next year’s Routes Asia forum in Kunming between 15-17 March, 2015 along with its partners Yunnan Provincial Civil Aviation Development and Management Bureau and Yunnan Provincial Tourism Development Commission.

You can find out more about Routes Asia here.

Traffic statistics show that in recent years the Yunnan aviation industry has been developing rapidly and is one of the major supporting industries of the local economy. In 2013, the GDP of Yunnan province was 1,172 billion RMB (approximately $191 billion), up 12.1 per cent; and local public financial income also grew by 20.4 per cent. Yunnan is a major tourism province in China with an income of 211.1 billion RMB in 2013, up 24.1 per cent, with over 5.33 million overseas tourist travelling to Yunnan, up 16.5 per cent.”

“Routes Asia is the biggest and most influential event in aviation industry in the region which provides a platform for exchanges among delegates from airlines, airports and the whole aviation sector. We think it would be a great opportunity to show amazing landscape, colourful ethnical cultures and potential aviation market to delegates,” said Li Yinglin, vice president of Yunnan Airports Group.

Our analysis, below, shows that passenger demand between Kunming and Europe reached record levels in 2013 having seen a mix of peaks and troughs over the past ten years. According to MIDT data an estimated 52,000 bi-directional O&D passengers flew on this routing last year, up 57.1 per cent on 2012. France is the largest European market from/to Kunming with 16,000 O&D passengers in 2013, but there are also notable passenger flows from/to the Chinese city from/to Germany, Italy and United Kingdom.

Data provided by Sabre


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