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Quality levels across the Chinese airline industry continue to improve

Quality levels across the Chinese airline industry continue to improve, say global airline rating agency, SKYTRAX

24 February 2012

SKYTRAX, the global airline research organisation, have recently completed their latest review of the airline industry in China, examining the quality of service and product being provided to customers by the main airlines in China.

"Outside China, we still see a lack of knowledge and awareness amongst air travellers about what airlines in China provide. Despite the major Chinese airlines meeting international safety standards, there is still prejudice amongst some travellers that quality does not match western levels" said Edward Plaisted, CEO of SKYTRAX. "The reality in 2012 is very different, and the depth of change and improvement that we have seen across the airline industry in China during the past 5 years is unmatched elsewhere in the world."

In 2010, Hainan Airlines which is the fourth largest Chinese airline, became the first 5-Star Airline in mainland China, highlighting the dramatic changes in quality levels for the industry. "Beyond a genuine and passionate desire to match and exceed product and service quality across airlines in Asia and the west, we have found the enthusiasm to succeed amongst Chinese airlines to be the greatest driver behind their current success" added Plaisted.


Air China new Boeing 777

Air China's new Boeing 777 Premium cabins meet 5-Star standards 

As airlines from other parts of the world look to increase their routes and frequencies into China, competition will increase further throughout 2012, but China's airlines can counter this - as they now deliver a very equal, and often better, standard of product and service than their western counterparts.

Currently operating large fleets of Airbus and Boeing aircraft, all of the major Chinese airlines continue to expand their fleets at a rapid pace. China Southern Airlines became the first airline in China to operate the A380 in late 2010, and will introduce the Boeing 787 in June 2012 with Hainan Airlines also expecting delivery of their first Boeing 787 later this year. Other widebody additions are being made, with the airlines receiving further Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 during 2012 to assist with international expansion.

"Establishing their brands in world markets is a core feature for the major Chinese airlines. China Southern Airlines is the 6th largest airline in the world by number of passengers carried (over 80 million in 2011), Asia's largest airline and operates over 350 aircraft .... but it is not a known or recognised brand in say North America or Europe, and this has to be a key priority for change" said Plaisted.

  Hainan Airlines Cabin Staff

Hainan Airlines, China's first 5-Star Airline delivers service that challenges the world's Best airlines 


Singapore Airlines .... Cathay Pacific .... Qatar Airways .... these are known names to air travellers across the globe (and are all 5-Star Airlines), but few travellers outside China will have heard of Hainan Airlines (a carrier that was elevated to 5-Star Airline status in 2011).

Hainan Airlines is the largest privately-owned and fourth largest airline in China, operating a large domestic network and international routes across Asia, and to North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa.

With a fleet of over 110 aircraft, Hainan Airlines will introduce the first of 10 Boeing 787's on order during 2012.

"Getting the Hainan Airlines brand recognised and respected for it's exceptional quality is needed" said Edward Plaisted. "Hainan Airlines have come so far in recent years, and deliver a quality of service and attention that rivals the long-established names such as Singapore Airlines. Their customer loyalty growth is definitely being fuelled by the consistency and high standards of their customer service and product."


China Southern Airlines

China Southern Airlines is the largest airline in Asia and 6th in the world 

Air China is still seen as the Chinese flag-carrier, although by size China Southern ranks No 1, and China Eastern is at No 2. Headquartered in Beijing, Air China has not been left behind in the push to improve standards across the Chinese airline industry. In 2011, Air China was upgraded to 4-Star Airline status, and continues to upgrade both product and customer service Quality levels.

"With new flagship Premium lounges in Beijing to be unveiled during 2012, and a continued introduction of new A330 and Boeing 777 throughout the next 3 years, Air China have set their sights on achieving a higher Quality rating. With a number of their deliverables already meeting a 5-Star quality level, the main concentration for Air China has to be achieving strongest consistency levels" says Edward Plaisted of SKYTRAX.

China Eastern Airlines (headquartered in Shanghai) is the second largest Chinese airline, and another carrier in the process of change and improvement to quality standards. Currently ranked as a 3-Star Airline, SKYTRAX have identified key areas of change that could enable China Eastern Airlines to deliver to 4-Star standards, and this is very much an area of monitor throughout 2012.


Air China is outperforming Air France in quality terms across many front-line product and service areas 

"In many respects, there is still prejudice by some nationalities against Chinese airlines, and even in the industry there are those that view their national airline as being better than the competitors in China - sadly, mostof this is based on ignorance and in certain aspects a reluctance to accept a more general change in the world-order. To take a simple example and compare two current 4-Star Airlines (Air France and Air China), we now find that Air China is outperforming Air France in quality terms across many front-line Product and Service areas - and yet, the public perception is often different, largely due to a lack of up-to-date knowledge" says Edward Plaisted.

Outside the four main Chinese airlines, there is a clear desire amongst regional airlines in China to further improve and develop quality standards. By western standards these are large airlines, with fleets of more than 20 aircraft - carriers such as Shenzhen Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Shandong Airlines, Chongqing Airlines, Juneyao Airlines, Lucky Air and Tianjin Airlines. Tianjin Airlines has already met quality requirements to achieve 4-Star Airline status, and has international expansion plans that include flying to a number of the world's major cities.

Contrasting domestic flight operations in China against airlines in Europe or North America, the product and value concept is still much higher in China - with meals and complimentary beverages still offered to Economy class customers, and a greater dedication to offering high quality service levels across short haul routes.

One of the key items that will help elevate Chinese airline service into the true world-class levels is when their staff language skills have developed further ... but don't expect this to take long, based on the pace in quality improvement across China.

For further information, please contact:

Mr Peter Miller
Director Marketing - SKYTRAX
Email :  miller@airlinequality.com



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