SAS and Finnair are getting some competition on the China routes, as direct charter flights from China to Copenhagen have been announced Beijing Capital Airlines, while a forthcoming route to Helsinki operated by Capital Airlines is also expected.
VisitDenmark is expecting more Chinese tourists to Denmark as a result of the announced routes to Copenhagen from Beijing and Hangzhou.
The Beijing route is expected to start on September 6, while the Hangzhou route is scheduled for September 3, 2015. The airline, which will use Airbus A330 on the routes, will operate two flights a week.
The airline filed an application in June with regulator CAAC to open one weekly services. After the application, WCARN reported Capital Airlines would also launch Beijing-Helsinki service by the end of the year and the airline would acquire three A330s (variant unspecified) by the end of 2015. These will be the first wide-body aircraft for the airline.
The direct charter flights from Beijing and Hangzhou to Copenhagen will attract more Chinese tourists to Denmark.
“Direct air routes are crucial for us to get more Chinese tourists to Denmark,” said Jan Olsen, the CEO of VisitDenmark. “Chinese tourists are like Americans – if it is too difficult to come here, they do not bother.”
Signe Jungersted, the market development manager of Wonderful Copenhagen, the official convention bureau of the greater Copenhagen area, also expressed great expectations for the new Chinese charter flights routes, saying that direct connection to the metropolis Hangzhou opens a new geographic area of China for Copenhagen.
She added that it would also ensure additional connection to Beijing in a period of high Chinese travel activities because of the week-long National Day holiday that begins around October 1.
Chinese are not yet the leading tourist group in Denmark. According to VisitDenmark, Chinese tourists enjoyed just over 160,000 overnight stays in Denmark in 2014. German tourists, in comparison managed more than 12.9 million stays.
“The number of Chinese tourists has increased in recent years, but China is still a relatively small market,” Olsen said.
Comparing with the existing flight routes by airlines to China from the Nordic countries, there is a perceived imbalance of foreign carriers having more flights to East Asia from Scandinavia than Chinese carriers to Scandinavia, reports Centreforaviation.com.
Currently no carrier flies from Hangzhou to Scandinavia, and no Chinese airline flies from China to Copenhagen or Helsinki.
Copenhagen was the 13th largest European destination from China in 2014 based on O&D demand, according to OAG Traffic Analyser. Copenhagen is also the largest un-served market from China. Of the top 20 European markets from China in 2014, there is service to markets smaller than Copenhagen such as Brussels and Geneva.
It is understood, writes this website, that Beijing Capital Airlines will be testing these markets. If the airline would be successful it could look to grow the market, including by having year-round service. Unlike other airlines affiliated with the expansive HNA group, HNA says Beijing Capital Airlines is owned under HNA Tourism as opposed to HNA Aviation. HNA Tourism’s companies as well as external travel agencies can help sell what is otherwise an initially small flight network. As with most Chinese airlines’ long-haul flights, outbound will be significantly stronger than than inbound demand. Chinese carriers have an advantage over European or other Asian peers in that Russia generally does not charge them over flight fees.
There is likely regulatory support for further Chinese growth in Scandinavia. The CAAC likes to see some attempt at balance between Chinese and foreign airlines. SAS and more recently Finnair have sought to exploit their northern geography to offer the quickest connections between Europe and Asia (and north Asia in particular).