Chinese carriers offer low fares to attract Indians
Mainland Chinese airlines are attracting more Indian flyers by offering low fares on busy routes. The routes include those between India, Far East, Australia, New Zealand, up to North America's West Coast, and short transit stops. Thomas Cook (India) Limited's Global Business Travel President Indiver Rastogi said, "In the past few years we have seen a gradual increase in Chinese carriers operating in India."
Indiver Rastogi's statement
"These airlines offer value-for-money fares and high-quality experience that has attracted the price-conscious Indian traveler. These airlines are also popular with corporate travelers who have business interests in China or want to use the country as a hub to fly onward to the USA."
Chinese carriers' limited access to India's market saves other airlines
Rastogi said the price difference varies between Rs.20,000-25,000 for long-distance destinations like the US and Canada, in comparison to other airlines like Singapore airlines, Thai Airways, Malaysian Airlines, etc. He added, "The competition price differential for China and Japan is from Rs.15,000-20,000." Chinese carriers' limited access to India's market saved other airlines from a Chinese takeover on the routes to the East.
Sino-Indian bilateral agreements regarding flight operations
According to a senior government official, the current Sino-Indian bilateral agreements allow airlines of both sides to operate 10,000 weekly seats on 42 frequencies. Chinese carriers utilize these completely while India is utilizing only 1,280 seats on five Air India flights that operate weekly to Shanghai. China wants enhanced bilaterals while the Modi government's stand is they would be hiked when India utilizes 80%.
China Southern's Delhi Head Chengming Yan's statement
"Almost 60-70% of our flyers from India take connections via Guangzhou to US, Australia, and New Zealand. We have a great network from our hub to those places. Indian flyers do not need to wait for more than two hours for their connections."
Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon operate 48 weekly flights
Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon operate 48 weekly flights to six Indian cities. Though HK comes under China, Cathay continues to enjoy its flying rights under India's bilateral with HK when it was under the British rule. China Southern has maximum flights among other Chinese airlines, with a twice-daily on Delhi-Guangzhou route. No other Indian carrier, except Air India, flies to China.
Air India's nonstop flights offer unmatched convenience
Low fares attract price-conscious Indians who have been flocking to Chinese airlines. Cox & Kings' Business Travel Head, John Nair, said cheap Chinese carriers pose a major challenge to airlines globally as they compete at 20-30% lower fares. The "affected" carriers, however, are putting up a brave face. Air India's nonstop flights offer "unmatched" convenience while Singapore Airlines continues to grow in all aspects.
A Delhi-based traveler's statement
"(China Southern's) fare was Rs.58,000 per person (Delhi-Los Angeles) while the other carriers' started at Rs.65,000. The Guangzhou terminal had dirty, portable toilets. The staff questioned only Indians about the size of their cabin bags. Apart from the low fare, nothing else was attractive."