Vienna targets regional Chinese cities

Vienna Airport has signed a cooperation agreement with representatives from Xi’an as part of efforts to secure a direct flight between Austria’s capital and the Chinese city.

Vienna Airport’s joint chief executive and chief operating officer Julian Jäger has told Routesonline that Xi’an is one of a number of regional destinations in China that the airport is targeting.

“We’ve been in discussions with a lot of regional Chinese airports, each with about 40 million passengers or more,” he said. “We were delighted to secure China Southern this year, but we feel there is still a lot of room to grow in China.”

OAG Schedules Analyser data shows Vienna currently has 20 weekly frequencies to mainland China, including Austrian Airlines’ flights to Shanghai Pudong (7 weekly) and Beijing Capital (5x); Air China’s three-weekly Beijing Capital service; and Hainan Airlines’ route to Shenzhen (2x).

In June 2019, China Southern began a Guangzhou – Urumqi – Vienna route, operating three times per week on board Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft. Total two-way weekly capacity between Vienna and China is now about 12,300 seats.

According to data from Sabre Market Intelligence, overall O&D traffic between Austria and China increased by 16.2 percent to 260,222 passengers in 2018. This followed a rise of 15.2 percent in 2017 and 7.4 percent in 2016.

Jäger said that Chengdu remains a focus, while outside of mainland China there are hopes of restoring links with Hong Kong. Austrian Airlines ended its flights to Hong Kong in October 2018, instead adding an extra weekly flight to its Beijing and Shanghai services.

“Long-haul is of particular strategic importance, particularly to destinations in Asia,” Jäger added. “But we have been delighted with the long-haul routes we have added this year.

“As well as China Southern, ANA has started Tokyo Haneda, Air Canada has launched Toronto and Austrian has opened Montréal. Air Arabia has also recently started operating from Vienna with flights to Sharjah.”

Jäger said that many of Vienna’s white spots have been filled in recent years, apart from in South America: “It is a complete white spot for us - we’re growing everywhere except South America.”

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