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China’s changing traveller patterns - can you keep up?

Among the top 15 markets for Chinese outbound travellers – Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Australia are set to see the biggest gains in the six months to March 2018, revealed in exclusive analysis from CiR Business Lounge. 

These markets are set to see traffic rise by +73%, +64%, +27% and +24% respectively (based on scheduled departing seat capacities). Seats to these destinations range from 1.2m for Indonesia to 964,899 for Cambodia. Elswhere, seats to Japan are only set to increase by +1% and to Hong Kong by +2% (see table). The only loser among the top 15 during this period is expected to be South Korea (-18%), but recent developments in the ongoing THAAD dispute suggest that South Korea's outlook for 2018 could change yet.

Source: CiR Business Lounge, Top Destination Countries for international Flights Departing China, Sept 2017 - Mar 2018

Garry Stasiulevicuis, the Founder and President of CiR, comments: “The duty free and travel retail industry has been facing unpredictable times when it comes to where Chinese travelling consumers are going. Moving global DF&TR sales forward from their current $63.5bn requires a close look at the ups and downs of Chinese travel choices.

“Based on year-to-date data, CiR has found some interesting honey traps for DF&TR operators, including markets such as Laos and Nepal, as well as better known Chinese destinations like Indonesia and Cambodia.”

International seat capacities from China to some other smaller markets are set for huge leaps. Among the larger of these markets, the Philippines will grow by +52%, Sri Lanka by +49% and Laos by +58%  (see table below).

Source: CiR Business Lounge, Fastest Growing Destination Countries for international Flights Departing China (>100k seats), Sept 2017 - Mar 2018 [Ranked on no. of seats]

However, other smaller destinations like the island of Reunion, Brunei and Oman are also going to see big influxes of Chinese travellers.

Source: CiR Business Lounge, Fastest Growing Destination Countries for international Flights Departing China (<100k seats), Sept 2017 - Mar 2018  [Ranked on no. of seats]

Regional-driven growth

The Chinese were the fourth largest nationality travelling abroad YTD 2017, behind the US, the UK and Germany, but their key source airports are diversifying.

In YTD July, airports like Shenzhen, Xiamen and Kunming – all in the top eight for international departing pax – had high growth rates of +23%, +26% and +25%, versus Shanghai Pudong’s +5% growth and Beijing Capital’s +4%.

While Shanghai Pudong’s growth has slowed, in the three and a half years since January 2014, LCCs at the airport have doubled their share of international traffic from 5% to 10%. Despite accounting for only one in 10 passengers, traffic on these airlines has almost tripled at +181% (Jul 17 v Jan 14).

The number of LCCs now stands at 10 with Spring Airlines, the largest LCC and second largest overall airline at Pudong, now operating flights to over 20 different international airports and  handling just over 1m passengers in the past 12 months.

With IATA recently revising their passenger forecast for Chinese Passenger numbers, stating, “The point at which China will displace the United States as the world’s largest aviation market – defined as traffic to, from and within the country – has moved two years closer since last year’s forecast." it remains as critical as ever to track the changing Chinese passenger destination trends.


NB. PAX Source: CiR Business Lounge | Advanced Analytics Tool - Data based on Scheduled departing international passengers only. Data displayed for nationalities is based on residency through place of ticket purchase