A Jetstar Boeing 777 arriving at Brisbane International Airport. By John Harvey.
International budget airlines continue to pry open the Chinese market ever so slowly. Qantas has joined hands with Shanghai-based China Eastern to set up the first budget airline in Hong Kong. Alison Rourke of The Guardian writes:
Jetstar Hong Kong will fly short-haul routes to China, Japan, South Korea and south-east Asia.
The Qantas chief executive, Alan Joyce, said there was tremendous potential for the airline in Asia. “Establishing Jetstar Hong Kong in the heart of Asia and on the doorstep of mainland China is a historic opportunity to continue the successful expansion of the Jetstar brand in this region,” he said.
Qantas says Jetstar Hong Kong will be only the second low-cost carrier based in greater China. Fairs would be pitched 50% lower than existing full service carriers, said the Jetstar Group chief executive, Bruce Buchanan.
While Jetstar’s early move in North Asia is a good one (Jetstar Japan begins operations this July), their success in China will come with caveats. Tony Webber, former Qantas Group chief economist, writes on the Sydney Morning Herald:
As a Hong Kong-based carrier, it is likely that Jetstar Hong Kong will not permitted to carry passengers within mainland China.
It is only permitted to carry passengers between Hong Kong and China, and, of course, between Hong Kong and the rest of the world.
This limitation means that Jetstar Hong Kong will not be able to access the fastest growing part of Chinese aviation.
The “real” Chinese market that Jetstar Hong Kong will be servicing is defined in Chinese aviation circles as the “regional” Chinese market.
This market is essentially very short sector international flying, such as China to Hong Kong and its other enclave Macau.