Two US airlines cut China routes as Beijing rivals turn up heat

American Airlines, the largest US carrier by passengers, said it would drop a route between Chicago and Shanghai. (Reuters)
Updated 22 August 2018
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Two US airlines cut China routes as Beijing rivals turn up heat

  • ‘The two China routes ... have been colossal loss makers for us’
  • Chinese passengers arriving at US airports are expected to nearly triple to 12.8 million in 2024 from 4.3 million this year

DENVER/SHANGHAI: Two US airlines on Tuesday cut routes between China and the US, underscoring increasingly tough competition from state-backed Chinese rivals as they aggressively expand their fleets with cut-price tickets.
American Airlines, the largest US carrier by passengers, said it would drop a route between Chicago and Shanghai, canceling the second direct flight from the US city to China in four months. It had canceled a flight to Beijing in May, although it still operates daily flights to the capital from Los Angeles and Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.
“The two China routes ... have been colossal loss makers for us,” said Vasu Raja, vice president of network and schedule planning, adding that high fuel costs had also made the route unsustainable.
Hawaiian Airlines said it would from October suspend its thrice-weekly nonstop service between Honolulu and Beijing, which it opened in 2014, citing slower-than-expected growth in demand.
Competition from Chinese airlines is expected to grow with the anticipated easing of China’s near-decade-old “one route, one airline” policy, which would allow more local airlines to fly long-haul international routes.
“US airlines are at a severe disadvantage,” said Mike Boyd, president of aviation forecaster Boyd Group. “The majority of demand is China-generated, and that gives Chinese carriers the advantage.”
Chinese passengers arriving at US airports are expected to nearly triple to 12.8 million in 2024 from 4.3 million this year, and the profile is shifting from groups to independent travelers, according to Boyd Group.
United Airlines President Scott Kirby said Shanghai and Beijing had rebounded for the airline after several years of weakness, although revenue per available seat mile (RASM) was below levels of two or three years ago.
“We’ve had several years of weakness as there was an awful lot of capacity growth out of Beijing and Shanghai,” Kirby said on the sidelines of the International Aviation Forecast Summit in Denver.
American and Hawaiian said the route cancelations were unrelated to demands placed by China’s civil aviation regulator on foreign airlines to amend the way they referred to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan on their websites.
Chinese state media had earlier this month singled out the two companies and other US airlines as being among the last firms to comply with China’s demands.
“That issue of how Taiwan was displayed on our website had absolutely zero impact on this decision,” Hawaiian’s chief executive, Peter Ingram, said. “Our economic evaluation was well underway long before that issue arose.”


Rolls-Royce, others still preparing for hard Brexit

Rolls-Royce is continuing with contingency plans as uncertainty grows over whether Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan will receive backing. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung))
Updated 17 November 2018
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Rolls-Royce, others still preparing for hard Brexit

LONDON: British aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce said it was continuing with contingency plans as uncertainty grows over whether Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan will receive parliamentary backing.

“This agreement is only a draft,” CEO Warren East told BBC radio on Friday, joining a line of industry captains urging politicians to be pragmatic and not torpedo an agreement that would allow UK-EU trade to keep flowing.

“We are going to continue with our contingency plans and that includes buffer stocks so that we have all the logistical capacity that we need to carry on running our business.”

Manufacturers such as Rolls-Royce fear new customs duties and red tape could threaten the just-in-time delivery of thousands of parts on which they depend if Britain crashes out of the EU on March 29.

May’s office has released statements from a number of major companies such as Diageo, the London Stock Exchange and Royal Mail in support of her deal.

The British pound clawed back losses as May clung to her Brexit plan, and Britain’s FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 both recovered, rising 0.2 and 0.3 percent respectively after Thursday’s sharp sell-off.

But she is still grappling with the biggest crisis of her premiership following the resignation of key ministers in protest over the draft deal, and faces a tough battle to get it through Parliament if she survives. “The political situation remains uncertain,” German carmaker BMW said
late on Thursday, adding that it would continue to prepare for
the worst-case scenario, which is what a no-deal Brexit would represent.

BMW’s Mini plant in Oxford accounts for 13 percent of Britain’s total car production, with nearly 220,000 cars built there last year.