China Eastern – Domestic Dominance

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Shanghai City

China Eastern – Domestic Dominance

With more Chinese destinations than any other Chinese airline group, the Group comprehensively covers the Chinese market but with new long haul aircraft on order, will it’s focus change?

The China Eastern Group of airlines is the second largest in China, accounting for 18% of China’s capacity. In the 12 months to June 2018, the Group had scheduled seat capacity of over 150 million seats with China Eastern accounting for 79% of group capacity.

The group network is larger than each of the other Chinese majors with services to 280 destinations. However, it is growing slightly more slowly than its peers with group carriers adding 9.8m seats in the last year, equating to 7% growth. Within the group, Shanghai Airlines is growing fastest, with 9% more seats this year compared to last.  The China Eastern Group remains focused on domestic growth.

The two primary airports used by the Group, Shanghai Pudong Airport and Shanghai Hongqiao Airport, serve the same conurbation, while other major airports are – in order of capacity – Kunming (KMG), Beijing (PEK) and Xian (XIY). Over a quarter of the China Eastern Group’s capacity operates from its Shanghai and Kunming hubs, as the chart below shows, giving the group coverage across both eastern and southern China. 

The China Eastern Group international route map shows there is limited international route overlap between Group airlines. China Eastern Airlines operates to 10 European destinations, all capital cities, and 7 North American destinations. Shanghai Airlines does not yet operate outside Asia and China United Airlines operates only to Japan from Yantai in the Shandong Province.

While the route networks for China Eastern and Shanghai Airlines are both strong on the East Coast, China Eastern also has an extensive network into Western China and especially Kunming, while China United Airlines has a distinct operation based around Beijing Nanyuan Airport (NAY).

With the second largest fleet of the 4 Chinese airline groups, the China Eastern group also has a significant long-haul aircraft order book, with 20 A350’s and 15 B787’s on order, undoubtedly reflecting their ambitions to grow internationally.

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