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China Airlines sees benefits in retaining regional Mandarin brand | In depth

China Airlines has said that its regional unit Mandarin Airlines will be around for the foreseeable future, even as its peers in the region have shuttered or merged such brands into mainline operations. 

In an email interview with FlightGlobal, China Airlines vice-president for corporate communications Marian Lu says the airline group’s brands are “differentiated” enough to target different segments. 

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Apart from China Airlines and Mandarin Airlines, the group also consists of low-cost unit Tigerair Taiwan. 

Mainline China Airlines is based at Taipei’s Taoyuan airport, and operates international flights, while Mandarin Airlines flies domestic routes with ATR 72s and Embraer E-190s, and wet-leases China Airlines aircraft to operate cross-strait and international flights. 

Tigerair Taiwan, which China Airlines once jointly owned with Singapore’s Tiger Airways Holdings, operates intra-Asian low-cost flights with a fleet of Airbus A320s. 

Says Lu: “The three carrier brands of China Airlines Group target separate market segments through differentiated facilities and services.”

Major airline groups like Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines have simplified their group structure. SIA, for instance, is in the process of integrating regional unit SilkAir into its mainline operations, while Cathay closed its Cathay Dragon brand last year, as a result of the pandemic’s impact. 

As for Mandarin Airlines, Lu says it has enjoyed a boost from pent-up domestic travel demand amid the coronavirus outbreak, with the airline noticing “a spike” in bookings from June 2020. 

“If the regional routes and recreational tourism recover first as expected in the future, the lower capacity and fuel consumption of Tigerair Taiwan’s fleet of narrowbody aircraft will undoubtedly lead the charge in the return to normal business operations,” she adds. 

Lu tells FlightGlobal that despite the three distinct brands in the group, Mandarin Airlines and parent China…

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