Hangzhou Xiaoshan Airport Seeks Customers from Suzhou
International airports in the Yangtze Delta region are embarking on a new round of competition as the airport shuttle bus from Hangzhou Xiaoshan Int'l Airport goes out of the boundaries of Zhejiang Province to reach Suzhou on Jan. 8. With the beginning of the expansion project of Pudong Int'l Airport in Shanghai, Nanjing Lukou Int'l Airport and Xiaoshan Int'l Airport stepped up the competition for passengers and air cargo.
For the past two years, Hangzhou Xiaoshan Int'l Airport has been approaching Suzhou to establish closer relations, and before the airport was upgraded as an international bub, the airport had completed its surveys on the passenger and cargo market in Suzhou, while departments concerned in Suzhou also expressed interest in accessing the Xiaoshan Airport. When Suzhou side explicitly declared that it was not going to build an airport of its own within the next 5 years, Xiaoshan Int'l Airport organized a promotion briefing in Suzhou under the slogan of "the earthly paradise of Suzhou and Hangzhou to share the airport".
A tangible measure of cooperation is the 4 round-trip buses between the airport and Suzhou. Xiaoshan Airport makes the point clear that the bus ride from Suzhou to Xiaoshan takes only 2 hours, while that from Suzhou to Pudong takes 2 and half hours.
The concentration of foreign-invested enterprises and IT enterprises in Suzhou, with high demand for cargo flights in addition to the annual transit of a million tourists, yield sufficient attraction to the airports in the vicinity. And the eastward move of Pudong Airport offers opportunity for the airports of Hangzhou and Nanjing.
Zhang Dezhi, Deputy GM of Xiaoshan Airport says that the cargo transportation at Pudong Airport is near saturation, and those of Hangzhou and Nanjing are good supplement at the cargo market.
As for Nanjing Lukou Airport, it has to face the competition of Xiaoshan Airport, the "outsider", besides Shanghai Pudong Airport. It also held several promotion meetings in Suzhou and sought to win over the Suzhou market by pricing strategy. But one of the disadvantages for Lukou Airport is that the drive from Suzhou to Lukou is longer than 3 hours, looked upon unfavorably by the IT enterprises, which count the time of goods delivery by the hour. Under such pressure, Lukou Airport has staged its promotion campaign in allied with 5 airline companies, such as Dragon Air of Hong Kong, Korean Air, and Air Singapore, in the hinterland of Anhui Province.
The rivalry is being enacted in other areas. Last April, HK Int'l Airport signed a buy-over agreement with Xiaoshan Int'l Airport to acquire 35% shares of the latter, whereas a consortium of Singapore is reportedly to obtain shares of Lukou Airport.
What attracts Xiaoshan Airport is the cargo courses in Suzhou. An arrangement has been made through consultation with SIP that the incoming overseas cargo at Xiaoshan Airport can be shipped to Suzhou for customs clearance. A sales service window is to be located in Suzhou to sell tickets to passengers of flights from Xiaoshan. Another possibility exists that airport bus routes may be extended to other cities in the southern Jiangsu Province.
Jan. 10, 2006