ROUTES ASIA: Yunnan Hosting Partners Outline Plans for Next Year's Event

Routes Asia returns to China in 2015 after being successfully hosted most recently in the country by Chengdu’s Shuangliu International Airport in 2012. Next year’s event will take place in Kunming, the capital and largest city of Yunnan province in Southwest China and will be hosted by Yunnan Airport Group, owners of Kunming Changshui International Airport, and supported by their partners Yunnan Provincial Civil Aviation Development and Management Bureau and Yunnan Provincial Tourism Development Commission.

Ahead of the official handover to next year’s host, The HUB Daily spoke to Li Yinglin, vice president of Yunnan Airports Group and Zhang Weijian, deputy director, Bureau of Civil Aviation Development and Management within the Yunnan Provincial People’s Government to learn more about the local market and the plans for the event.

Li Yinglin, vice president of Yunnan Airports Group
Zhang Weijian, deputy director, Bureau of Civil Aviation Development and Management within the Yunnan Provincial People’s Government

Q) Could you please give a brief introduction about the Yunnan Airport Group?
Li Yinglin: “Yunnan Airport Group (YAG) is the state-owned property, owned by Yunnan Provincial Government and Kunming Municipal Government, responsible for planning, financing, construction and operation of civil airports in Yunnan. YAG currently owns and operates 12 airports, which include Kunming International Airport (KMG), Lijiang International Airport, Xishuangbanna International Airport, Mangshi, Pu’er, Baoshan, Lincang, Zhaotong, Shangri-la, Dali, Wenshan and Tengchong Airport. In 2013 YAG airports recorded 356,464 aircraft movements, 40 million passengers and 314,648.9 tonnes of cargo and mail, which increased by 28.9 per cent, 25.3% per cent and 11.3 per cent compared with 2012. Currently, there are 41 international and domestic carriers operating on 393 routes, including 340 domestic, 53 international and regional routes connecting 98 domestic cities, 29 overseas cities and four districts, Hong Kong, Macau, Taipei and Kaohsiung.”

Q) What is the ambition of Kunming International Airport?
Li Yinglin: “The central government had been positioning Kunming International Airport as one of the national hubs in China, and the most important gateway to Southeast and South Asia. Kunming Changshui International Airport is currently the seventh busiest airport in China in terms of passengers, the fifth busiest airport in terms of aircraft movements in 2013. In 2013, Kunming International Airport recorded 29.7 million passengers with an annual growth rate of 23.8 per cent, including 2.17 million international passengers with an annual growth rate of 31 per cent. Kunming Changshui International airport officially opened on 28th June, 2012 and is designed as 4F airport grade, which provide services for the A380. In July 2013, China Southern Airlines operated the routes from Beijing to Kunming with A380 aircraft on a daily basis.”

Q) What is the main advantage of the Yunnan market for network development?
Zhang Weijian: “Yunnan has advantages both in geography and air routes. Located on the intersection of China, Southeast Asia and South Asia, Yunnan shares its border with Vietnam, Laos and Burma, connecting Thailand and Cambodia with Lantsang and the Mekong River, and close to Malaysia, Singapore, India and Bengal markets. It is the province with the most neighbouring countries in China. Kunming is located at the intersection of international air routes A599, A581 and L888. It is centrally located within Asia and there are over 30 countries within a radius of 600 km with Southeast Asia and South Asia within a two hour catchment area. This geographical advantage and strong route network makes Yunnan an economic aisle connecting Bangladeshi, India, Burma, and an important air transportation junction between China and ASEAN.”

Q) How is Yunnan’s aviation industry currently developing?
Zhang Weijian: “In recent years, Yunnan aviation industry was developed rapidly. The airport networking system was almost built up as the route network kept on growing and the passenger volume increased. Yunnan currently owns 12 airports which together form a major network system supported by Kunming Changshui International Airport as a core, Lijiang, Xishuangbanna Airports to a lesser scale and the rest as important feeder airports. Yunnan’s aviation industry is one of the major supporting industries of the local economy. In 2013, the GDP of Yunnan province was 1,172 billion RMB (approximately $191 billion), up 12.1 per cent; local public financial income also grew by 20.4 per cent. Yunnan is a major tourism province in China. The tourism and aviation industry should be developed together to achieve mutual benefit. In 2013, the provincial tourism income was 211.1 billion RMB, up 24.1 per cent, with over 5.33 million overseas tourist travelling to Yunnan, up 16.5 per cent.”

Q3. Why does Yunnan hold the aviation business in such high regard?
Zhang Weijian: “Yunnan provincial government has paid great attention to the aviation industry. A project titled ‘The Opinions of Utilizing the Civil Aviation to Boost the Development of Yunnan Province’ was issued by the provincial government as recent as this February. It states that airports in Yunnan will be increased to 20 up until 2020, passenger volume and mail and cargo volumes will reach to 1,000 million and 600,000 tonne levels, respectively, while passenger growth at Kunming will lead to it becoming the fourth largest airport in China, and number 30 in the world. The main task is quickening the construction of airport networks systems, including building Kunming international airport as a gateway hub and setting up a strategy actively guiding the development of airlines, boosting general aviation, speeding up the developing of airport economy, quickening the developing of aircraft leasing and improving the airports operation standard. For the short term at least one intercontinental route needs to be launched and attracting foreign airlines with high reputation to enter the Yunnan market. Under the proposal of developing an advanced aviation province, Yunnan will introduce visa free 72 hour transit access, and simplify clearance process to provide a simple and fast transit service. As well as developing intercontinental routes, the network target is to cover the capital cities of ten countries in ASEAN and seven countries in South Asia as well as major tourist cities.”

Q) Why is Yunnan Airport Group hosting Routes Asia 2015?
Li Yinglin: “Routes Asia is the biggest and most influential event in aviation industry in the region which provides a platform for exchanges among delegates from airlines, airports and the whole aviation sector. We think it would be a great opportunity to show amazing landscape, colourful ethnical cultures and potential aviation market to delegates. Yunnan Province has a population of 45.96 million, and the GDP is 1,172 billion RMB (approximately $191 billion). We have lots of local supporting industries such as tobacco, tourism, biopharmaceutical, energy and mining resource. The China international flower auction center is located in Kunming, exporting flowers to over 40 counties around the world. In the last five years, YAG built the new Kunming Airport, and upgraded five regional airports in Yunnan province. An additional four regional airports will be built in the next five years. It also would be a great opportunity that airlines develop new routes to Kunming, Lijiang and Xishuangbanna International Airport. Since the new Kunming Airport was put into operation, our international flights annual traffic has seen rapid growth. According to IATA database, in 2013 the O&D passengers between Kunming and Southeast Asia were up to 734,259; between Kunming and South Asia up to 156,415 passengers; between Kunming and Europe to 41,724 and between Kunming and North America and Australia were 31,838 and 20,791 passengers, respectively.”

Q) What will hosting Routes Asia 2015 provide for the local market?
Zhang Weijian: “Routes Asia is a great celebration which will provide the perfect platform for airlines and airports of Asian countries to communicate effectively. We are honoured that the 2015 event will be hosted by Kunming. It will be a great opportunity for Yunnan to work and communicate with other airlines. We will ensure full support to jointly hosting this event. At the same time, we are delighted to take this opportunity to invite all delegates to the 13th Routes Asia to experience the unique charm and great potential of Yunnan, and build the air corridor connecting the whole China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and the rest of the world through Yunnan by our joint efforts.”

Q) What are the main attractions for delegates in Yunnan?
Li Yinglin: “With its beautiful landscapes, mild climate and 26 ethnical cultures, Yunnan province is one of China’s major tourist destinations. Kunming, known as the ‘Spring City’, enjoys an average temperature of 15°C. This ideal ecological environment, along with the countless natural lakes in the region, creates beautiful landscapes which have made this destination a popular holiday resort in China. On the other hand, there are 26 rich ethnic minority cultures in Yunnan, and four interesting places have been named as UNESCO natural and cultural heritage sites, including Lijiang Ancient Town, Stone Forest, Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas and Honghe Hani Rice Terraces. During Routes Asia 2015, we are planning to provide city tour programmes for delegates, while visits to Stones Forest and Yunnan Ethnical Village will provide the delegates with absolute different experiences. AGolf Challenge will be arranged for VIPs with the best golf course in Asia and a famous stage show which is called Yunnan Impression will be performed during the Gala Dinner. We believe 2015 Routes Asia in Kunming will be a valuable and attractive trip for delegates. It will allow delegates to experience the unique ethnical culture and beautiful natural resources of Yunnan, while completing important business.”

Richard Maslen

Richard Maslen has travelled across the globe to report on developments in the aviation sector as airlines and airports have continued to evolve and…