Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport firmly positioned as global air hub

Baiyun International is an example of not just the rapid rise of the aviation sector in China, but also the growth strategy of airport operator Guangdong Airport Authority to develop the facility as a major hub and support the growth of anchor tenant China Southern Airlines to introduce new markets. In 2000 the airport was handing just over 12 million annual passengers – in the subsequent 15 years it has quadrupled and added a further 43 million annual passengers.

The hosting of World Routes 2018 in Guangzhou will enable senior aviation officials, air service development executives and tourism stakeholders to see first-hand the significant development plans that are in store at the city’s Baiyun International Airport.  With the addition of 67 new international air links in the past five years, including key services to the likes of Frankfurt, London, Moscow, Rome and San Francisco, the facility has firmly cemented itself with the world’s twenty largest airports by passenger traffic.

The airport first grew into the World’s Top 20 passenger airports in 2010 when it surpassed the 40 million annual passenger milestone for the first time.  We are only halfway through the decade and the airport has already exceeded the 50 million passenger milestone in each of the past three years, finishing 2015 with a throughput of over 55 million.

The third largest city in China, capital of Guangdong Province and an historic port on the Pearl River near the South China Sea, Guangzhou has played an important role in Guangdong Province’s economic boom since the 1990s. The largest importer and exporter in China with a nominal GDP of 6.779 trillion yuan (US$1.104 trillion), Guangdong contributes towards 12 percent of China’s national economic output.

Baiyun International is an example of not just the rapid rise of the aviation sector in China, but also the growth strategy of airport operator Guangdong Airport Authority to develop the facility as a major hub and support the growth of anchor tenant China Southern Airlines to introduce new markets. In 2000 the airport was handing just over 12 million annual passengers – in the subsequent 15 years it has quadrupled and added a further 43 million annual passengers.

China Southern Airlines is offering more than 17 million departure seats from Baiyun International this year, based on published schedules from OAG.  The airline has an almost 50 percent share of the capacity on offer from the airport, well ahead of its closest rivals, Air China (7.7 percent), Shenzhen Airlines (7.7 percent), China Eastern Airlines (7.5 percent) and Hainan Airlines (5.7 percent).

In the space of the last ten years it has boosted its offering from Baiyun International by two thirds and will grow an estimated 4.8 percent in 2016 thanks in part to new non-stop connections being introduced from Guangzhou to Linfen and Rizhao, but mainly due to a significant capacity upgrade in both its domestic and international networks.

The expansion at the airport has seen its network map rise from 106 non-stop destinations in 2006 to 117 in 2015 and this year amongst others sees a new international link to Algiers in Algeria, new local connections to Linfen, Qionghai, Rizhao, Shiyan and Xi'an Xiguan and the resumption of non-stop departures to Helsinki.

Its busiest markets unsurprisingly are to China’s biggest (Beijing and Shanghai) and fast-expanding cities (Chengdu, Hangzhou and Xi’an).  The largest foreign markets by capacity are to the mature Asian markets of Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul and Singapore, while Los Angeles and Dubai are the largest intercontinental destinations.

To support its growth a second terminal is being constructed at Baiyun International Airport to increase the airport’s maximum annual capacity to 80 million passengers when it opens in 2017. The long-term aim is for the airport to have five runways and three terminals to handle 62,000 flights, 100 million passengers and three million tons of cargo a year.

“The development of Guangzhou Baiyun Airport as a giant international air hub is an essential part of the national Chinese strategy to enhance the status of its civil aviation from ‘large’ to ‘powerful’,” said Mr. Zhang Kejian, chairman of the board, Guangdong Airport Authority.

Securing the great opportunity to host World Routes 2018 will certainly further improve the airport’s international connections and in the process boost national and regional economic and social development, enhance the core city status of Guangzhou in China, as well as promote the development of the world-class city group in the Pearl River Delta.

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