Shenzhen Airlines’ ‘Star’ turn, Beijing to seize control of Cathay?

Posted: 11/30/2012 7:57 am

In the latest round up of aviation news in the Pearl River Delta, Shenzhen Airlines brings more competition to the tarmac in their new alliance move while Swire’s support of Cathay could fall away if Air China pays a hefty price.

Stars align for Shenzhen Airlines
Shenzhen Airlines, China’s fourth largest carrier, has been handed a “win-win” boost after being accepted into one of global aviation ‘big three’ alliances.

The move opens up more of the Pearl River Delta as passengers fly to and from China and beyond.

Following parent company Air China, the southern China-based carrier joins Star Alliance, bringing more than 400 flights and 70 destinations to the network.

As reported by WCARN.com, Star CEO Mark Schwab said:

Shenzhen Airlines is China’s fifth largest carrier and strengthens the Star Alliance presence in China and across Asia. Our customers now benefit from improved access throughout the economically important Pearl River Delta and across southern China. At the same time, Shenzhen Airlines gains access to a global network with enhanced benefits for its passengers; truly a win-win situation.

This is good news for the legions of international travelers based in Shenzhen, as the can earn frequent flier miles more easily and reach more destinations with less hassle.

The move also brings Shenzhen in line with the rest of the PRD airports. China Southern and SkyTeam have an iron grip on Guangzhou Baiyun while Cathay Pacific and the Oneworld alliance dominate Hong Kong.

Beijing to seize control of Cathay?
CAPA has a must-read piece on the future ownership of Cathay Pacific. Could Swire, its largest shareholder, be prepared to sell its holding – at the right price – to Air China, which already owns 29.9% of Hong Kong’s flagship carrier?

Here’s what CAPA has to say:

An Air China takeover would be deeply political, and is seemingly not a question of if but when, how and what the competitive response is. Cathay expects Air China’s stake to increase, but Cathay’s board 
must first approve a takeover, which is not expected in the short term. The mood from Swire, Cathay’s largest shareholder (42%) and source 
of senior management – and almost its entire culture – is a firm commitment to Cathay and aviation in greater China but also seems to be that it will sell, but for a premium. As for accepting a takeover, the time may come when Cathay and Swire know that not cooperating with Beijing will yield unfavourable outcomes, as Hong Kong edges closer to becoming more fully a part of China.

It has to be said any takeover bid would be deeply controversial and stoke growing anti-Mainland sentiment in the SAR.

Nevertheless, within the ‘big three’ alliances shaking-up their offerings at the moment, a takeover could lead to wider changes in the Delta.



‘Threatening message’ forces emergency landing of Shenzhen Airlines flight

Posted: 08/31/2012 2:29 pm

In the second case in as many days, a Chinese airline has been forced out of the sky after receiving a “threatening message” causing concern and throwing a spotlight on the nation’s ever-expanding industry.

Shenzhen Airlines flight ZH 9706 took off from Xiangyang Airport, in Hubei, last night en-route to Shenzhen, but never arrived. In fact, it never left the province and was diverted to Wuhan.

“At 10:29 p.m. on August 30, 2012, flight ZH 9706 received threatening information after takeoff,” the airline said in a statement posted to Weibo. “To ensure safety, this airline diverted the flight immediately and the plane landed safety at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport at 11:22 p.m. Police have been called in to investigate.”

No one is taking any chances.

In a statement released by the Wuhan airport authority, the threat was made through an anonymous call that forced the emergency landing.

Yesterday’s incident isn’t the first of its kind, or even the first this week. On Wednesday it emerged an Air China flight bound for New York returned to Beijing after receiving a similar message, serious enough for the plane to make a u-turn seven hours into its journey after receiving a tip from US authorities.

The industry is on a heightened sense of alert after a hijacking was thwarted in Xinjiang Autonomous Region in which six ethnic Uyghur men tried to seize control, but were overcome by passengers and crew.


[Updated] GZ flight attendant claims she was beaten on board… by a government official

Posted: 08/30/2012 12:56 pm

Fang Daguo

The interwebs have lit up once again in the PRD thanks to a young woman in Guangzhou who claims she was beaten by a man on board an Air China flight from Hefei to Guangzhou yesterday (August 29).

The woman was working as a flight attendant on flight CA3874 when she claims a passenger became aggressive.  The man said she provided poor service and he didn’t like the way she spoke to him.  He apparently said, “You are only a flight attendant, I know your boss!” At one point, he apparently beat her with his luggage.  The woman posted photos of her injuries on Weibo around 9:00 last night, which we have posted below.  They have been shared on Weibo more than 10 million times.

Any incident of a person in power appearing to abuse their status seems to strike a chord with people these days, and this case is no different.  After the woman posted her claims, netizens began searching for the identity of the man on board the flight.  China’s famous human flesh search engines uncovered the guy: Fang Daguo, a political commissar in Guangzhou.

People on Weibo are outraged about his behaviour, and we expect this story to develop further.  We’ll keep you posted.

(Thanks again to @MissXQ for the info)

Update (9:18am 31 August):

It appears the flight attendant has either backed down, or possibly received some settlement cash.  On her Weibo last night, she posted:

On flight CZ3874 from Hefei to Guangzhou, Fang Daguo and his wife were in conflict with me over where they placed their luggage. Fang Daguo and his wife have already given me their sincere apology, and it has been settled properly. Thank you for your attention.
The post has been reposted over 22,000 times with over 14,000 comments. Most of the comments said they are disappointed.  So many people supported her, they said, and it’s sad she gave up so easily.  However, others said there must be another story behind the climb-down, and probably some cash exchanged hands.  Our bet is on this one.