AirAsia and other regional budget airlines will face a new competitor when China Eastern Airlines expands its budget air travel to the Asian regions outside China.
China Eastern now wants its low-cost carrier China United Airlines to expand beyond China. Currently, Beijing-based China United operates domestic routes with 49 aircraft. It operates scheduled flights and charter services out of the Beijing Nanyuan Airport.
“We see the future of low-cost travel (LCT) as very promising. In 2014, we entered this segment, and now under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) policy, we want to expand our budget air travel to South-East Asia, South Korea and Japan,” said executive vice-president Xi Sheng at China Eastern’s headquarters here recently.
In its regional expansion plan, China Eastern would also be looking for strategic cooperation, joint ventures and equity investment. It has close cooperation with Japan Airlines and Qantas. But Malaysia Airlines, which is facing an uncertain fate due to its massive losses and reportedly looking for buyers, is not on the radar of China Eastern.