Qantas eyes China growth but seeks balance

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Qantas is focused on lifting its share of the lucrative Chinese travel market without sacrificing growth in other markets.

“We have to make sure we are taking advantage of the Chinese market but not forget our other markets,” chief executive Alan Joyce told a tourism and transport conference in Sydney on Friday.

“Flexibility is key here.” China boasts more than 100 million travellers but Australia only gets one per cent of them, despite research showing the country is the destination Chinese tourists most want to visit.

The Chinese travel market is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 13 per cent over the next decade, which makes it a market the airline cannot ignore, Mr Joyce said.

Qantas (QAN) this year recommenced daily flights from Sydney to Beijing, its third destination in China after Shanghai and Hong Kong.

But while its presence in China is it’s the largest ever, it faces stiff competition on the routes from airlines including Air China, China Southern Airlines and Air New Zealand.

On Friday, Hainan Airlines — owned by China’s HNA Group that owns a stake in Virgin — announced it would from September this year start twice-weekly direct flights between Shenzhen and Brisbane.

Qantas is seeking to protect its flanks by ensuring growth is maintained in other markets.

“It is a market we know is extremely important and we have to do something to make sure that we maintain growth and are successful in that market,” Mr Joyce said.

“But we cant ignore some of our other markets.” Over the last couple of years, Qantas has seen a steady expansion in its share in the Japanese market, with growth at the strongest levels since the 1980s, he said.

The airline also recorded 14 per cent growth in the US last year.

By PRASHANT MEHRA

AAP | The Australian

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