After securing new routes to Europe in 2014 and North America in 2015, Kunming Changshui International Airport could be linked to directly to Australia from 2016 as the third stage in its long-haul connectivity strategy, a senior regional official from Yunnan Province confirmed at this year’s Routes Asia forum in the Chinese city.
According to Ding Shaoxiang, vice governor of Yunnan province government, the route successes of China Eastern Airlines linking Kunming to Paris Charles De Gaulle last year and Vancouver International Airport from this year should be followed by a new direct link to Australia in 2016 serving either Melbourne or Sydney.
“We have seen a lot of success over the last two years with our new link to Paris in Europe, and will this year see the addition of flights to Vancouver in Canada. We hope to follow this with direct flights from Kunming to Melbourne or Sydney in Australia from next year,” he told a packed audience during an opening ceremony presentation ahead of this year’s Routes Asia Strategy Summit.
Tourism, spurred on by air route development, remains a key driver of economic growth in the region. It is a primary source of foreign earnings, creates jobs and stimulates inbound investment. It is estimated that just one new narrowbody service could generate some $4 million in aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenue to the province
The gateway to this area is Kunming Changshui International Airport – the flagship gateway of the 12 airports in Yunnan Province operated by the Yunnan Airport Group Co, Ltd. The airport comprises two independent runways, six taxiways and 110 parking positions (68 boarding bridges and 42 remote stands). Even though the facility is not yet three years old, new developments are on the horizon. Additional aircraft stands are planned as is a runway upgrade to ILS CAT II. The reconfiguration and expansion of the main terminal’s commercial and retail space is already underway.
A second phase of the airport’s expansion will include two more runways, a new cargo terminal dedicated to freighters and another passenger terminal that will enable the facility to handle 80 million customers annually. The additional capacity will enable the airport's management to begin an aggressive domestic and international growth strategy - 105 aircraft already overnight in Kunming, according to Shaoxiang, and the additional infrastructure will support further aircraft stays.
On the domestic side more direct connectons to level three destinations are planned. Outside of China the goal is to attract more international airlines to the Yunnan market. The ambition is to directly connect with every capital and secondary city in Southeast Asia as well as major tourism sites, with the new intercontinental route to Australia likely to be the icing on the cake.