Hongqiao holds its own ....
These days Hongqiao is Shanghai’s second airport, but it still retains a key role for the city and has seen much improvement in recent years.
Shanghai’s Hongqiao International Airport has lost its international prominence ever since the flashy Pudong Airport
appeared on the scene in 1999. However, as the now mainly domestic gateway to China’s biggest commercial centre, Hongqiao still carries weight: the airport handled 31.3 million passengers last year, up a massive +24.8% with five international routes still intact • to Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Hong Kong and Macau.
Hongqiao has the advantage of being just under 15km from the city (about 20-30 minutes away by car depending on the exact location) and also had a revamp in early 2010 in time for the Shanghai Expo. This gave it a second runway and a brand new Terminal 2 (used for domestic flights) which is around four times as big as Terminal 1 (exclusively used for international flights and Spring Airlines).
From a retail perspective the airport is limited but expanding. As well as having free wifi installed across its buildings, the older T1 has new duty free stores; part of a plan from Shanghai Airport Authority to improve services further and improve its standing among competing gateways in Asia. These days the airport has a stronger promotional calendar in place to attract more passengers into the duty-free shops and it claims to be more price competitive than ever. But bear in mind the fact that due to local domestic Chinese pricing being high on many imports, the chances of finding deals may be better at other international Asian hubs like Hong Kong or Bangkok.
In T2 a single group, Dufry, operates 20 duty-paid shops covering 1,500 square metres and among them are some top international fashion and luxury brands including Bally, Burberry, Cartier, Coach, Dunhill, Ermenegildo Zegna, Hermès, Hugo Boss, Giorgio Armani, Lacoste, Omega and Tommy Hilfiger
. The duty-paid element offers little price advantage but the fact that these brands are all in one easy-to-shop location is a boon if you are short on time. They are essentially targeted at Chinese, rather than international, passengers
On the beauty side, there are 12 key cosmetics counters for Armani, Biotherm, Clarins, Clinique, Dior, Estée Lauder, Helena Rubinstein, Kiehl’s, Lancôme, L’Occitane, Shiseido and Shu Uemura. Further retail space is expected at be opened in phases over the coming years. Other stores in the terminal include some standard names in food and drinks like Starbuck’s and Costa Coffee, and KFC and McDonald’s, plus books stores and packaged food outlets.
T2 has helped to vastly improve the retail and services at Hongqiao and it has won plaudits from independent traveller forum Skytrax as the world’s most improved airport in 2011 and a similar accolade for improvement by airport body Airport Council International.
- Passenger numbers, 2010: 31.3 million
- Airlines: Around 24 of which the biggest (by number of routes) are China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Spring Airlines, Juneyao Airlines and China Southern Airlines.
- Worth knowing: Hongqiao’s terminals are served by two metro lines allowing very cheap access to the city in less than half an hour. A taxi could be almost as fast for around $10.