The current boom in China’s international tourism is causing rapid airline expansion.
The rising number of Chinese tourists traveling overseas is linked to the country’s emerging middle class, and is projected to double to 200 million travelers each year by 2020. The Hong Kong brokerage and investment firm CLSA recently reported, “Historical evidence in other Asian countries suggests that per-capita GDP growth beyond $8,000 triggers explosive outbound travel. By 2020, the number of provinces in China with per-capita GDP spending exceeding $8,000 will increase from 10 in 2012 to 27.”
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Chinese travelers especially seem to enjoy visiting the United States and France, although the warm beaches of such locales as the Maldives and Thailand are also driving tourists from the mainland.
Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways is a prime example of Chinese tourism’s growing influence. The carrier recently ordered $29 billion of new aircraft to accommodate its huge influx of new travelers. Earlier this month, the airline began to offer daily flights to the New York area, each with approximately 1,500 seats. They also have two daily flights from San Francisco, and will soon have four flights each day from Los Angeles and 10 each week from Chicago.
The airport authority in Hong Kong is also considering the addition of a third runway to “keep pace with the cargo and passenger traffic.” The Hong Kong airport is predicted to meet its capacity 15 years earlier than originally expected.
Rupert Hogg, Cathay Pacific’s chief commercial officer, is optimistic about the boom.
“I’m a bull when it comes to the potential for outbound traffic from China,” Hogg said in a recent speech in New York. “The numbers are very large indeed.”
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