Walsh eyes tie-ups in China visit

Walsh eyes tie-ups in China visit

Foreign airlines are looking to establish services in second- and third-tier cites across China as they seek to carve out a position in the world’s fastest growing aviation market. Demand in these cities is growing fast and, in many places, is already sufficient to make daily international services economically viable, according to the China Civil Airport Association (CAAC). Willie Walsh, CEO of International Airlines Group (IAG), was in China last week to hold talks with domestic carriers as IAG looks to pinpoint possible destinations, specifically in southwest China. “We recognise that China is not just metropolises such as Beijing and Shanghai, and that other cities are also developing,” said Walsh. The CEO visited Chengdu in Sichuan province on Thursday where he met with representatives from Chengdu Airlines and Sichuan Airlines. Though no details have been divulged on the meetings, IAG is looking at possible opportunities for cooperation, reports the China Daily. The group has a compiled a list of 10 Chinese cities which it believes will be popular among its passengers and will investigate opportunities at these destinations over the next few years. Deutsche Lufthansa AG is also looking to expand services to second-tier cities. Lufthansa already operates services between Nanjing in Jiangsu province and Frankfurt, Germany, and will launch the first intercontinental air route to Qingdao in Shandong province next year. In March Air France-KLM Group launched its seventh China service to Xiamen in Fujian province. This puts IAG slightly behind the curve as it currently flies to just three Chinese cities: Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong. It will, however, be increasing flight frequency from 27 weekly flights to 30 this year.

Mark Elliott
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Mark Elliott
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