Monday, February 15, 2016

Shandong Airlines to cease Delhi-Kunming flight in end March

by Soumen Mukherjee

In November 2015, East China's Jinan based Shandong Airlines had commenced 4 weekly service to Delhi from Kunming. The airline also provides one-stop connection to its hubs in Jinan and Qingdao from Delhi via Kunming. It operates 167 seats Boeing 737-800 aircraft on the 2,574 km Delhi-Kunming route. Kunming, the capital of South-west China's Yunan province, is a major commercial center and the Changshui International Airport is major hub for short-haul international flights to South and South-east Asia. Kunming also one of the nearest Chinese major city from India and a direct flight from Delhi was much awaited. Shandong Airlines's service launch on Delhi-Kunming route in November 2015 therefore was very welcome development which also provides Delhi Airport with connectivity to regional China (Jinan, Qingdao) through one-stop flights. But it seems the airline is withdrawing its Delhi service in summer 2016 season as it has closed booking on the route after 25 March 2016; 

Although the airline has issued no official statement confirming this neither it provides the reasons behind the withdrawal decision. Extremely poor load factors on the Delhi-Kunming sector is believed to be the real cause behind the airline's decision to withdraw from the route just after 5 months after launch. Shandong Airlines had commenced 4 weekly service on 11 November 2015 and it had operated total 29 services one way by the end of 2015; As mentioned earlier the airline operates 167 seats Boeing 737-800 aircraft on the route that leads to 4,843 seat capacity (one-way) during November-December 2015; But the Q4 CY2015 international city-pair passenger data released by DGCA shows Shandong Airlines carried only 1,569 passenger to Delhi and 1,412 passengers from Delhi, resulting in extremely poor loads on the sector. The average Q4 CY2015 PLF stands at 32% on Kunming-Delhi route and only 29% on Delhi-Kunming route.

Delhi-Kunming Passenger numbers in Q4 2015

Period
Kunming-Delhi pax
Delhi-Kunming pax
Total
Q4 2015
1,569
1,412
2,981

Here is the current flight schedule of the sectors Shandong Airlines flies to and from India. With Qingdao-Kunming-Delhi flight operating last on 23 March 2016 while Jinan-Kunming-Delhi flight operating last on 25 March 2016;

Qingdao-Delhi flight schedule

Flight No.
Origin: Departure
Destination: Arrival
Frequency
SC 8829
Qingdao: 06:20
Kunming: 09:50
Wednesday, Sunday

Till 23 March 2016
     SC 8829
Kunming: 11:30
Delhi: 14:00

Delhi-Qingdao flight schedule

Flight No.
Origin: Departure
Destination: Arrival
Frequency
SC 8830
Delhi: 15:00
Kunming: 22:00
Wednesday, Sunday

Till 23 March 2016
     SC 8830
Kunming: 22:55
Qingdao: 01:55+1
Jinan-Delhi flight schedule

Flight No.
Origin: Departure
Destination: Arrival
Frequency
SC 8827
Jinan: 06:30
Kunming: 09:50
Monday, Friday

Till 25 March 2016
     SC 8827
Kunming: 11:30
Delhi: 14:00

Delhi-Jinan flight schedule

Flight No.
Origin: Departure
Destination: Arrival
Frequency
SC 8828
Delhi: 15:00
Kunming: 22:00
Monday, Friday

Till 25 March 2016
     SC 8828
Kunming: 22:55
Jinan: 01:50+1




Kolkata-Kunming
The only other direct route to India from Kunming is Kolkata. China Eastern Airlines operates daily flight on the 1,478 km Kolkata-Kunming sector, and it is running the secvice quite successfully. The airline deploys 134 seats (J8Y126) Boeing 737-700 aircraft on Kolkata route from its West China hub in Kunming. If we look at the Q4 CY2015 DGCA numbers of international city-pair passengers, China Eastern carried 9,095 passengers to Kolkata and 9,219 passengers to Kunming from Kolkata. Given it operates daily flight with 134 seats aircraft therefore the airline had deployed 12,328 seat capacity (one-way) during the Q4 CY2015; Therefore the load factors are indeed very good on the sector ranging from 73 to 75%. In fact due to heavy fog in Kolkata Airport China Eastern flights were diverted to Dhaka for a few occasion in December 2015, otherwise the passenger numbers would have been even higher on Kolkata-Kunming route. In fact China Eastern is actively considering launching a second daily frequency on the route. From the Indian side low-cost carrier IndiGo too said to have interested in serving Kunming from Kolkata.

Period
Kunming-Kolkata pax
Kolkata-Kunming pax
Total
Q4 2015
9,095
9,219
18,314


Here is the China Eastern's flight schedule on Kolkata-Kunking and Kunming-Kolkata routes.

Kunming-Kolkata flight schedule

Flight No.
Origin: Departure
Destination: Arrival
Frequency
MU 555
Kunming: 23:50
Kolkata: 23:40
daily

Kolkata-Kunming flight schedule

Flight No.
Origin: Departure
Destination: Arrival
Frequency
MU 556
Kolkata: 00:30
Kunming: 05:15
daily

10 comments:

  1. Excellent fact-based article. Interesting to see CCU-KMG demand.
    Wondering though, looking at China Eastern's success with the smaller 737-700, shouldn't Shandong have started DEL with the same perhaps? A quick wiki search shows Shandong do have the -700 version also. Maybe they have better -700 usage elsewhere.

    Futhermore, I have read about China's decision to put only one Chinese airline on a given city pair for the USA. e.g. PEK-BOS will only be operated by Hainan, no others. Does that apply to India too?
    Else Shandong could have benefited from CCU demand and added a tag DEL-CCU-KMG flight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank Deovrat for your appreciation,
      It is indeed surprising to see such low demand on KMG-DEL route. As you suggest a KMG-CCU-DEL flight would have been more successful for Shandong Airlines but the Chinese carrier doesn't have the 8th freedom traffic rights to carry passenger between CCU and DEL and vice versa.

      Delete
    2. However, KMG is the third largest hub for China Eastern Airlines after PVG and SHA, whilst for Shandong Airlines it's just another airport. Since it's the airline of Shandong province, it doesn't have that much existence in other region, especially in Southwest China, where it only has a pretty weak base in CKG.

      Delete
    3. Also, the "one airline per route" rule only applies to China—US/Canada markets. The real hindrance for China—India route might be the weak market.

      Delete
  2. airlineroute.net hasnt reported this, its run by a Chinese guy who is very particular on reporting about carriers from there.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What is the main reason for direct flights between Kolkata & Kunming?

    ReplyDelete
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