Fiji Airways gains access to mainland China with Hong Kong Airlines codeshare

Fiji Airways is the latest airline from this region to forge a codeshare with Hong Kong Airlines. Fiji Airways plans to begin codesharing with Hong Kong Airlines in Jul-2017, at about the same time Virgin Australia starts to codeshare with the Hong Kong-based carrier.

The two codeshares are similar in that they are designed to provide offline access beyond Hong Kong to mainland China. Hong Kong Airlines currently serves 15 cities in mainland China. Neither Fiji Airways nor Virgin Australia serve mainland China.

As Blue Swan previously reported, Virgin Australia will begin codesharing on Hong Kong Airlines operated flights from Hong Kong to mainland China when Virgin Australia launches Melbourne-Hong Kong service on 5-Jul-2017. Hong Kong Airlines will also place its code on the new Virgin Australia flights to Hong Kong.

See related report: Virgin Australia’s bid to access mainland China gets closer and closer

Hong Kong has been a longstanding destination for Fiji Airways but the airline until now has lacked codeshare access to mainland China, an important growth market for Fiji’s tourism industry. Chinese visitor arrivals to Fiji were up 22% in 2016 to nearly 50,000. Chinese visitor number have more than doubled since 2013 and were up another 3% in the first four months of 2017.

Chinese resident visitor arrivals to Fiji: 2013 to 4M2017

Source: CAPA – Centre for Aviation and Fiji Bureau of Statistics

Chinese residents accounted for 6.2% of all visitors to Fiji in 2016 compared to only 3.6% in 2013. China has become the fourth largest source market for Fiji’s tourism industry (after Australia, New Zealand and the US) but there are no nonstop flights between the two countries.

Fiji Airways aims to launch services to mainland China in late 2018 or 2019. However, it only plans to operate to one Chinese destination with two or three weekly flights. The Hong Kong Airlines codeshare will therefore still be needed to cover the rest of China.

If the Hong Kong Airlines codeshare is successful, Fiji Airways could add further capacity to Hong Kong and potentially upgrade the Nadi-Hong Kong route to daily. Fiji Airways served Hong Kong with only two weekly flights until late 2013, when it added a third weekly frequency. It added a fourth weekly flight to Hong Kong in 2015 and a fifth weekly flight in 2016.

Hong Kong Airlines will become Fiji Airways’ seventh codeshare partner along with Air New Zealand, Air Vanuatu, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Jet Airways and Qantas Airways. The Jet Airways codeshare began in Mar-2017, providing Fiji Airways with access to India via Hong Kong and Singapore.

Fiji Airways plans to add an eighth codeshare partner by the end of 2017 in Singapore-based Jetstar Asia. Fiji Airways is already interlining with Jetstar Asia, which gives it access to 14 destinations throughout Southeast Asia.

Fiji Airways launched services to Singapore, its only destination in Southeast Asia, in 2016. Fiji Airways struggled initially on the Nadi-Singapore route but the rescheduling of flights and the new partnerships (including the codeshare with Jet Airways and the initial interline with Jetstar Asia) has led to significant improvements in recent months. The feed from Jet Airways and Jetstar Asia in Singapore are critical as Fiji-Singapore is a small local market.