In numbers: Aviation growth between China and Western Europe

China's aviation market is expanding at an incredible pace; but how much of that is from Western Europe?

Following the relaxation of flight restrictions between the UK and China, Routesonline examines traffic growth between Western Europe and the Asian superpower.

Which countries are growing capacity at the the fastest rate, and how does this compare to the rest of the world? And which airlines are adding the most capacity?

The explosion in Chinese outbound tourism, coupled with its growth as an economic superpower, have led to huge increases in air capacity in the last five years.

Total seats between China and the rest of the word have grown by an astonishing 29.8 million in the last five years, with 4.4 million of that between 2016 and 2017.

Unsurprisingly, the majority of that growth has come between China and its near-neighbours, particularly Thailand.

Seats between Thailand and China have grown by 6.8m since 2013, leading to concerns that the country’s stressed infrastructure could struggle under the weight of expansion.

Western Europe

Growth in capacity between Western Europe and China has been more subdued, with capacity constraints and flight restrictions leading to more circumspect route provision by airlines.

Despite that, 1.6 million new seats have been added between China and Western Europe in the last five years.

Although the figure may seem comparatively small, accounting for just 5.4 percent of the total growth between China and the world, context is critical.

In 2013 there were 4.7 million seats between China and Western Europe, so the rise represents 34 percent growth in this period. In total there were 6.3 million seats between the two destinations in 2017.

Germany takes the largest share of traffic with 1.5 million, closely followed by France’s 1.2 million. Meanwhile the UK, which was the inspiration for this article, is a distant third with 833,602 seats in 2017.

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