AFA Panel discussion: The impact of COVID-19 on Chinese airlines’ international network and the way forward for greater collaboration between Chinese and international airlines
In 2019, Mainland Chinese tourists took 155 million outbound trips, totalling £225 billion in travel spending making it the largest outbound travel market in the world in terms of number of trips and total spend. China plays a major role in the international aviation and tourism industries and, as one of the last counties to reopen from the pandemic, their absence was greatly felt during global recovery.
The international superpower began dropping restrictions in January 2023, nearly three years after China closed its borders. At Aviation Festival Asia, Zhang Wuan, VP Spring Airlines and Wayne Wang, Assistant Director, Commercial, Hong Kong Airlines joined industry analyst Henry Harteveldt for a discussion around the impact of the pandemic of Chinese airlines’ international network and the way forward.
The conversation looked at how both airlines survived the pandemic understanding their different experiences and exploring strategies for re-emergence.
Each airline brought a different perspective to the discussion. Spring Airlines, China’s first low-cost domestic airline, supplied a low cost perspective which shaped the discussion around possibilities for growth and future development. This complemented Hong Kong Airlines’ as one of four carriers headquartered in Hong Kong in amongst Cathay Pacific, HK Express, and Greater Bay Airlines. This position was reflected in Wayne Wang’s thoughts on differentiation, an aspect of conversation that Henry honed in one. Stemming from these diverging backgrounds, the airlines individually explored their strategies for international collaboration and the challenges that can occur.