Seat Capacity for China Outbound Traffic has More than Doubled in Past Decade: Based on the data for the number of seats made available for the 2017 summer season (known in the industry as S17, which begins the last Sunday of March and runs through the last Saturday of October), the USA is the top long-haul destination for travelers from China.
The latest data made available from the air traffic reporting site, anna.aero, based on numbers from the OAG Schedules Analyser, offer the reader the opportunity glean different findings.
—One development, in particular, that stood out for the Inbound Report, was the substantial decline (26 percent, year-on-year) in departure seats for South Korea, which has benefited from interest by millions of Chinese in South Korea’s music and televised entertainment programs. In fact, South Korea ceded its position as the number one international destination for Chinese travelers to Japan.
The reason—and it should alert other countries that political actions have consequence—for the sudden drop-off has to do with the decision of the South Korean government to deploy the U.S.-supplied Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system. The South Korean government considers THAAD a deterrent to the expanding military activity on the part of North Korean. The Chinese government believes that the system, with its sophisticated radar, is too close to China’s mainland and that its deployment is an extremely aggressive move.
As a result, the Chinese government announced in March that it would ban all group travel to South Korea as part of its response the South Korea’s decision to deploy THAAD system.
Chinese travelers have taken the ban seriously. It was reported that, when the Costa Serena cruise ship recently docked at Jeju, South Korea, all 3,400 Chinese passengers aboard refused to disembark.
Also, the popular South Korean supermarket brand, Lotte, has closed at least 79 of its 99 supermarkets in China have been closed or are closing as a result of the disagreement. And major online sites have voluntarily pulled Lotte products from their posted offerings.
—Another fact that becomes readily apparent is that, even with the admonition not to travel to South Korea, it, along with Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Taiwan—as destinations—account for more than half of outbound seat capacity from China.
—While traffic from Shanghai and Beijing dominate departures from China, traffic from Guangzhou has increased substantially.