Discount carriers take low-cost road to success
Second-largest aviation market drawing attention of new budget airline companies across Asia Pacific
Low-cost airlines from around the region are taking to the skies in the mainland market, where they aim to meet huge demand from domestic travelers for new destinations around Asia.
HK Express, the only low-cost carrier in Hong Kong, will soon open service on its second route to the mainland— Ningbo, Zhejiang province.
“The move represents our commitment to carving a foothold in the Chinese mainland,” said Andrew Cowen, deputy chief executive officer of HK Express.
The company, which currently flies to 13 popular destinations throughout Asia, launched daily flights to Kunming, Yunnan province, last October.
Starting Aug 1, the airline will operate five flights a week betweenHong Kong and Ningbo.
Along with opening new routes on the mainland, the company will also open more international flights to neighboring destinations to cater to the “overwhelming demand” from mainland travelers, according to Cowen.
“We are offering low-cost, efficient ... air services for travelers in Asia, especially those in the Pearl River Delta, which neighborsHong Kong, as a growing number of people have developed an interest in traveling throughout southeastern and northeastern Asia,” Cowen told China Daily.
The low-cost flight provider will expand its destinations to 20 by the end of 2014, of which most will be popular tourist destinations in Asia. It also plans to recruit 300 new cabin crew members by the end of 2015, sources with the company said.
“We believe that the company will become a market leader in low-cost flights, as Hong Kong provides an ideal geographic advantage in attracting travelers from the Chinese mainland,” Cowen said.
Sources with Malaysia’s AirAsia, which has dominated budget air travel in Asia with explosive growth over the past decade, said it plans to continue its growth in the Chinese market, doubling its passenger volume by the end of 2015.
AirAsia has launched flights to 10 destinations in China, mostly second- and thirdtier cities.
As the world’s second-largest aviation market, China is now served by more than 10 foreign low-cost carriers, which provide flights to more than 20 cities, according to the CAAC News, a newspaper run by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
A number of domestic airlines, including big players such as China Eastern Airlines Corp Ltd, also plan to offer low-cost services to meet the growing market demand.
Sources with the CAAC News said that China’s low-cost flight market is expected to account for 20 to 30 percent of the total market by 2030.