Tianjin Airlines to fly (£7 plus taxes ?) Gatwick to Tianjin from June, with Chongquin stop

Desperate to get some sort of link to China, to compete with Heathrow, a twice weekly flight by Tianjin Airlines between Gatwick and Tianjin, via Chongquin (in western China) ill start in late June. Tianjin Airlines are an internal Chinese airline, and they want to eventually get flights from Heathrow.  They say no more routes from Gatwick are planned.  They seem a little unsure of the level of demand (Tianjin is an industrial port, some 80 km south east of Beijing) as they plan to charge only £7 with taxes one way, and £9 with taxes on the return.  [Has Gatwick subsidised them, for the PR bonus?]  If the service continues, they would aim to much cheaper than competitors.  Gatwick has not done well with attracting or keeping long haul airlines. Airlines that axed routes from Gatwick in the two years 2011 to 2013 include Hong Kong Airlines, Air Asia X, Korean Air and US Airways. In 2015 Garuda and Vietnam Airlines also moved their flights from Gatwick to Heathrow.  Gatwick lost 15 long-haul carriers between 2008, and 2013, including Air Nigeria. Air China pulled out of Gatwick in 2014 when they got slots at Heathrow from October, for a service to Beijing.  On the Tianjing flights: “As soon as an LHR slot becomes available they’ll be off.” 

Tianjin Airlines launches Gatwick service with more in mind

31..5.2016 (TTG)

Tianjin Airlines is hoping the launch of its first route out of the UK will lead to more.

The airline last week announced a twice-weekly route from Gatwick to Chongqing and Tianjin, starting on June 25 and departing each Saturday and Wednesday.

Wen Ge, general manager of HR and the administration department for Tianjin Airlines, said while further routes out of Gatwick are not an option, he hoped the airline’s inaugural UK flight could help kick start more elsewhere.

He added: “Currently there are no plans for connections from Gatwick to other parts of Europe or the UK.

“However, we are considering plans to open air routes from Heathrow following our Gatwick launch.”

Wen added he expected the passenger split on the new route to be 40% business travellers, 40% tourists and 20% overseas students.

He also said although the heavily discounted promotional prices, £7 plus taxes one way on the first flight and £9 plus taxes on the second, will rise he believes prices will remain competitive.

Wen said: “For the launch we are attracting passengers with a low price but as we continue to improve our service the prices may go up.

“After we raise the prices we will still be more than £50 cheaper than our competitors.

“Besides the price, the destination is unique and we are the only airline flying to Tianjin and Chongqing from the UK so there was no worry about customer demand.”



Gatwick hoping – yet again – for a link to China, while most long-haul routes have failed

Gatwick has had a very low rate of success (other than low cost airline Norwegian) in getting any long-haul routes to significant places, and keeping them more than a short time. Now an internal airline in China, Tianjin Airlines, is hoping to take delivery of three Airbus A330-200s in the coming months. Gatwick is one of the routes it will be trying out. Tianjin is hoping to introduce a twice-weekly link between Tianjin and Gatwick, via Chongqing from June 25th 2016. However, Tianjin is the huge port some 80 km south east of Beijing. Last August it suffered some very serious explosions at the port, which probably killed around 173 people and caused non-fatal injuries to almost 800 people. An AirportWatch member commented: “No one will want to fly to a port that exploded some 6 months ago. There is nothing there. Tianjin is an internal Chinese airline. Air China pulled out of Gatwick when they got slots at Heathrow. As soon as an LHR slot becomes available they’ll be off.” Airlines have axed routes from Gatwick in the two years 2011 to 2013 include Hong Kong Airlines, Air Asia X, Korean Air and US Airways. In 2015 Garuda and Vietnam Airlines also moved their flights from Gatwick to Heathrow.

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Air China and China Eastern Boost London Presence

8 August 2014

Richard Maslen (Routesonline)

Air China will introduce a second daily rotation on its route between Beijing and London Heathrow from October 26, 2014, while China Eastern will boost its existing Shanghai route to the UK’s largest international air gateway from October 29, 2014 with a sixth weekly flight.

Air China and China Eastern Airlines have both secured new winter slots at London’s Heathrow Airport which will enable them to increase the frequency of their routes from into mainland China. Air China will introduce a second daily rotation on the route from Beijing from October 26, 2014, while China Eastern will boost its existing Shanghai route from October 29, 2014 with a sixth weekly flight.

The second Air China rotation will likely replace the carrier’s summer operation to London’s Gatwick Airport, which was introduced in May 2012 after the carrier failed in a previous attempt to secure additional slots at Heathrow. This was originally operated as a year-round service on a four times weekly schedule but reverted to a seasonal offering in 2013.

Ahead of the launch of the Gatwick service an Air China executive confirmed to The HUB that the decision to split its London operations was a necessity to meet the strong demand on the route, but that Heathrow was always its primary growth target.

“We fully intend to expand in the UK and increase our presence there but unfortunately we can’t do it at Heathrow. Our daily Beijing flight to Heathrow has load factors of over 90% – it’s ridiculously full. But adding capacity at Heathrow is out of the question and we have actually been agonising over this issue for a long time,” Dr Zhihang Chi, vice president and general manager North America, Air China explained during an interview for Routes Asia in Chengdu in April 2012.

“We have decided that the best option is to run split operations and to go to Gatwick for additional frequency. This is not necessarily a good thing but we don’t have a choice as we want to expand. Heathrow offers better connection options and we will now have to invest in two sets of staff and equipment,” he added.

The new twice daily offering from this winter will see Air China switch its existing rotation from a Boeing 777-300ER to an Airbus A330-300 and will see both flights operate with the smaller widebody within two hours of each other. The existing CA937/938 rotation will move forward a couple of hours to a slot time utilised previously by the carrier with the new CA855/856 flight operating to the current schedule.

The change of equipment will mean the removal of a First Class product on the route, although it is likely that the 777-300ERs could return in the summer 2015 schedule on at least one of the two rotations. The introduction of the second rotation will boost Air China’s capacity on the Beijing – London Heathrow route by 61.4 per cent with a loss of eight First Class seats but an increase of 30 Business Class and 169 Economy seats per day.

Meanwhile, China Eastern Airlines has confirmed it will add a new Wednesday flight on its route between Shanghai and London Heathrow from the start of the winter 2014/2015 schedules, flown by an A330-200. The additional flight will bring an earlier rotation with a late morning departure from Shanghai and early evening departure from London.

China Eastern this year celebrated ten years of first serving the UK market after inaugurating flights on the route in April 2004, initially using an A340-300. The operating aircraft was switched to the smaller, but more efficient, A330-200 in February 2009 but the route was suspended the following month, resuming one year later in March 2010.

In our analysis, below, we highlight O&D demand between China and the UK in 2013 by departure or arrival point in China.


Earlier, in September 2013:

Gatwick expansion plans hit as Air China scraps flights

Gatwick’s bid to rival Heathrow as a gateway to important long-haul destinations has been dealt a blow as Air China prepares to scrap its direct flights from the Sussex airport this winter.

Gatwick has lost 15 long-haul carriers since 2008, including including Korean Air, Hong Kong Airlines, Air Asia X and Air Nigeria

By Nathalie Thomas (Telegraph)

14 Sep 2013

Air China is pulling its services between Gatwick and Beijing from next month, although it will continue to operate out of Heathrow.

The decision has been seized on by critics of Gatwick’s plans for a “constellation” of two-runway airports to serve London’s future aviation needs. Opponents argue that Air China’s decision is proof that only a hub airport can sustain year-round routes to destinations in fast-growing emerging markets as airlines are able to use the transfer traffic to fill the flights.
“London and the UK economy need a proper, well-functioning hub airport with room for growth,” said Daniel Moylan, London Mayor Boris Johnson’s aviation adviser. “No amount of pretending that is not so is going to give Britain the sort of infrastructure it needs.”

Gatwick has lost 15 long-haul carriers since 2008, including Korean Air, Hong Kong Airlines, Air Asia X and Air Nigeria, but the airport stresses it has also added others such as Vietnam Airlines, Gambia Bird and Caribbean Airlines since the airport changed ownership in 2009. Moreover, Air China expects to resume summer services to Beijing next year, Gatwick said.
“Air China has made a decision not to operate services between London Gatwick and Beijing this winter,” the airport said in a statement. “Passenger numbers on the Gatwick-Beijing route have been strong since it was launched in May 2012.

However, over this summer Air China increased the capacity on its aircraft operating out of Heathrow and this has prompted the decision to temporarily withdraw services from Gatwick for the winter season.

“Air China intends to operate this route again out of Gatwick from next summer and we shall be working hard to return it to a year-round service.”

….. and it continues