The new high speed rail links in China have their benefits in improved ease of travel. They also make it very difficult for the airlines to compete across distances of less than 10,000 km although that figure is still being debated. Therefore China Southern Airlines plans to boost its presence in international markets and increase flight frequencies in domestic markets to compete with high-speed railways.
The Guangzhou-based carrier’s chairman, Si Xianmin, said, "International flights account for only 17% of our flight network, and we plan to increase that to 30% to explore international markets."
He said the expansion of its international network can also help the carrier cushion impacts from domestic high-speed railways which can’t extend to overseas markets. Chinese government plans to build 42 high-speed rail lines spanning 13,000 km over the next three years, which will make it harder for domestic airlines.
"We expect air routes shorter than 1,200 kilometers will be affected by the high-speed railways," Si said.
Shanghai Daily reported the carrier will increase flight frequencies on routes to forestall a loss of air passengers. A total of 38 of China Southern’s 160 domestic routes face direct competition from bullet trains.