Interview: Chongqing Seeks To Build On Domestic Strength
Routes speaks to Mr Xiong, president of Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport Co., Ltd (CKG).
What’s the current situation at Chongqing Jiangbei International? How has the recovery progressed during the northern summer season?
Regarding passenger throughput, our airport ranked fourth in China and top 20 worldwide for two consecutive years in 2020 and 2021. The market has been recovering in a satisfactory way. After June 2020, the domestic air passenger transport market of Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport has recovered to 80% of the level before the pandemic. Despite the short-term decline in passenger flows due to sporadic resurgences domestically, the local aviation market in Chongqing has maintained good flexibility. The speedy recovery from each resurgence also indicates that our aviation market is resilient and has a solid foundation.
During the summer season this year, the total number of weekly flights at Chongqing Jiangbei International exceeded 7,000. We have increased the number of destinations in third- and fourth-tier cities in China, with 11 destinations added year-on-year, greatly improving the accessibility of the airport in northwestern and southwestern China. Meantime, we have optimized the existing route network, increased the frequency of express flights to commercial centers such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen, and strengthened the aviation connection with second-tier cities such as Hangzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao, Urumqi, and Lhasa, thus further enhancing our hub functions.
What new routes have you secured this year and are there any due to start over the coming months?
Since the beginning of this year, Chongqing has successively resumed passenger routes to Hong Kong, Rome, Madrid, Bangkok, and Vientiane, and opened new freight routes to New Delhi and Mumbai. Next, we will seek to resume passenger routes to London, Paris, New York, and Doha, and open new freight routes to Mexico City and other places, thus further improving Chongqing's international route network. We also hope that major airlines will take Chongqing as the first choice to restore their market in China, and we will make every effort to ensure the quality service support.
Your domestic traffic is exceeding 2019 levels but international obviously remains very low. Are you seeing signs that more international markets will be able to reopen soon? What international routes do you hope to be able to recover the quickest?
Situated in inland China, Chongqing is neither a border nor a coastal city, and aviation remains an important support for Chongqing to build a leading area of opening-up in China's interior. Affected by the pandemic, international flights have been suspended on a large scale.
However, the goal of Chongqing to open to the outside world has remained unchanged, and the fundamentals of Chongqing as an important international metropolis in China have not changed either.
According to China's policies on international passenger flights, we will promote the recovery of the key routes to London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, and other destinations in Europe and North America, and add destinations in neighboring Asian countries such as Cambodia, Vietnam, and the Philippines, so as to better integrate into the Belt and Road Initiative and the RCEP agreement.
What are your longer-term route development ambitions?
In the long term, Chongqing Jiangbei International will adhere to its positioning as an international aviation hub, seize the opportunity of the construction of Chengdu-Chongqing world-class airport cluster, focus on developing routes to western and southern regions, and build an efficient and convenient international airline network reaching the five continents, thus growing into a world-class airport operator.
What activities are you undertaking to attract new airlines and further grow your market?
Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport always welcomes new airlines and seeks win-win cooperation with them. First, we seek support from local governments in route promotion and passenger source organization for the routes with great significance to serving the local economic and social development; second, we optimize and improve transfer services, strengthen the airport's role in passenger and cargo assembly and distribution, and offer fee reductions and exemptions for strategic routes, thus facilitating stable route operation of airlines; third, relying on our own publicity platforms and third-party media, we assist airlines in carrying out route promotion and expanding the market.