Airlines cut flights from Guangdong to Xiamen after high-speed rail opens

Update:08 Jul 2014

China’s airlines are settling into a changed market from Shenzhen and Guangzhou to Xiamen in southern China, where a high-speed 200 km/h rail line (HSR) opened on 28-Dec-2013 and reduced travel time between Shenzhen and Xiamen from 11 hours to three hours and 50 minutes. What was once a journey where air had a distinct advantage is now a trip where air has only a minor advantage.

Unsurprisingly, flights from Shenzhen to Xiamen have been cut, by a third, with 53 weekly flights decreasing to around 35.

Flights from Guangzhou to Xiamen have dipped 12% from 91 a week to approximately 80. (Fare information is unavailable, which could show discounting to better compete with rail.) The changes are real, but their relative impact in the wider scheme of things is very small: China in Jun-2014 had approximately 31,000 weekly domestic round-trips. Taking a few dozen flights out is a rounding error, although more realistically the slots and airspace can be used to open new routes.

Guangzhou/Shenzhen to Xiamen are not trunk routes
The Guangzhou-Xiamen and Shenzhen-Xiamen routes should first be placed in context. They are not trunk routes. In 2013, Guangzhou-Xiamen saw approximately 26,000 weekly return seats compared to the 145,000 weekly return seats on Beijing Capital-Shanghai Hongqiao, the largest domestic route in China in 2013.

Guangzhou-Xiamen was the 50th largest domestic route in 2013 ranked on seat capacity, according to OAG. Shenzhen-Xiamen saw approximately 15,000 weekly return seats and was the 137th largest route.


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