ANYONE who doubts the ambitions of China’s airlines need only look over the plans for Daxing International Airport, which will serve Beijing after it opens in late 2019. It will be the world’s biggest airport by far, with eight runways and room for 100m passengers a year. The new facilities are needed to serve a fast-growing appetite for air travel. The three Chinese carriers that will dominate the passenger traffic passing through Daxing’s cavernous halls are all in rapid ascent. And that has rivals everywhere complaining about the sorts of subsidies that have fuelled airlines since the dawn of commercial aviation.
China’s airlines are adding passengers at a rate not seen since Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways started to attract customers to their Gulf hubs, handily placed between Europe and Asia, with a winning combination of cheap fares and superior service. Between 2010 and 2017 passenger numbers on China’s three biggest…Continue reading