Booking a flight from London to Sydney can paint a telling picture of the great change in international air travel in recent years.
It is the same thing if you’re looking to fly from Bangkok to Los Angeles. Or from Singapore to New York.
In all three cases, the cheapest tickets of our days are often offered by a Chinese airline.
Take the London to Sydney route. With the help of one of the most well-known flight search web sites in search of a ticket to fly and back on the two dates selected at random – 30 October and 12 November – the least expensive available, at the time of writing, has been cited by China Southern Airlines.
In the meantime, if you want to fly between Bangkok and Los Angeles on the same dates, the lower the ticket price offered by China Eastern Airlines.
So, if you don’t mind having a layover in a Chinese city, you might not have heard of the way about 12 hours to Qingdao? – the leisure and the business travelers can often save a considerable amount of money.
But exactly how a growing number of Chinese airlines able to offer to negotiate lower prices of more established rivals from Europe, the united states, Asia and the Middle East? Are they playing fair?
And how are the Chinese carriers able to guarantee a growing number of often hard-to-get landing locations around the world?
China major airlines are no doubt to be funded by the Chinese government, said Shukor Yusof, founder of Endau Analytics, based in Singapore, the aviation industry of the research group.
These grants allow carriers, such as the big three, Air China, China Eastern and China Southern – to aggressively gain market share around the world without worrying too much about losses along the way.
“The chinese carriers do not reveal any details or clarification,” said Mr Yusof. “However, taking into account the flight numbers, it would be fair to say that some are breaking even, many lose money, and few are able to pursue profits.”
China airlines also benefit from regional Chinese governments offering subsidies to run international flights from the major cities, in the hope of putting more on the card, and the promotion of tourism and economic development.
In 2016, the regional authorities in China outside Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to spend at least 8.6 billion yuan ($1.3 billion; £ 1 billion) to subsidize the airlines, mainly to international flights, according to data compiled by the research group of the Civil Aviation of the Analysis of the Data.
One of the smaller Chinese carriers, Sichuan Airlines, provides service to Los Angeles from Hangzhou and Jinan, and the two flights are said to rely heavily on subsidies, with less than 60% of the seats full, compared to the global scale, the industry-wide average of 81.4% in 2017.
Thanks to the financial support of the Chinese government – which is the majority owner of Air China, China Eastern and China Southern – the Chinese carriers also have the funds to buy the landing locations around the world. These can cost tens of millions of dollars, with airlines having to buy from other carriers.
However, while the Chinese government is no doubt using its financial muscle to help Chinese airlines to capture a growing share of the global aviation market, it would be too simplistic to attribute the rise of the domination of the country’s carriers to the state sponsorship only.
Instead, you need to remember that China is the most populous country, and a growing number of its people can afford to fly abroad on holiday. This comes at the same time that the western countries have relaxed visa restrictions on Chinese travellers.
Mr Yusof said that the number of people of the mainland of China of theft abroad has more than doubled over the last decade, “the faster [rate] in the world”.
“We are talking about 100 million seats by 2017 alone,” he said.
Outside of Asia, the most popular overseas destination for Chinese vacationers is the US. These Chinese tourists spend an average of almost $7,000(£5,500) per trip, according to the US Travel Association.
Given the boost that this gives to the tourism industry in the united states and Europe, you can see why the governments are quite happy to see more flights from China.
In fact, the growth of the international Chinese the number of passengers is so large that China is expected to overtake the united states as the world’s largest aviation market by 2022, according to the International Air Transport Association industry body.The World Trade
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To meet this steep increase, China is also continuing to build many more airports. In 2010, the country had 175 airports. It now has 230.
Andrew Herdman, director general Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, says that another factor behind the increase in the number of international passengers of Chinese airlines, is the increase of the quality of the service they offer to passengers.
“Chinese airlines have been the success of efforts to reduce the gap in the perception of service levels through investment in products and customer service, and in the vicinity of the alignment of international standards,” he said.
As a result of this increase in quality, a growing number of Westerners and Chinese people – the passengers are happy to fly with Chinese carriers, especially if they can save money in the process.
But back to the financial support that the Chinese central government and the regional authorities, to give the country’s airlines. Peter Harbison, executive chairman of Sydney-based research group the Centre for Aviation, said it would be hypocritical of the US and europe to complain too much.
“The whole [international] aviation regulatory structure is built around injustice, with huge barriers to entry,” he said. “It is embarrassing for anyone to make a claim under the unfair competition in the field of aviation.”
Mr Yusof agreed: “It is a bit rich, in our view, to the West airlines to criticize the three main Chinese carriers for the assistance they receive… when US and EU carriers also get large doses of subsidies from their respective authorities.”