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Tianjin to lure new airlines to increase traffic
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09:15, January 15, 2009

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Tianjin Binhai International Airport (TBIA) plans to bring in more passenger and cargo airliners to counter the global recession.

"In 2009, we aim to expand our cargo transportation volume by 30 percent to 240,000 tons while increasing passenger transportation volume by 35 percent to 6 million people," TBIA president Shao Dengxiang said on the local people's congress' sideline.

"In two to three years, TBIA will squeeze its way into China's top five in terms of cargo transportation volume."

China Cargo Airlines has inked a deal with TBIA to operate in Tianjin this year, increasing the airport's cargo capacity by 30 to 40 percent.

TBIA currently has three warehouses for cargo transportation and ranks 11th in China in cargo transportation volume. Shao said work is underway on another warehouse. Once the expansion is completed, TBIA will have an additional cargo transportation capacity of 50,000 tons per year.

The move corresponds with the municipal government's goal to make Tianjin "Northern China's aviation logistics center".

In addition, TBIA will become a large "portal hub" by inviting more airlines. New momentum for this push has come from the impending arrivals of China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines, Shao said.

"In addition to introducing more airlines, we will encourage more airways with presences at TBIA to offer more destinations," he added.

A new route from the city to the US is in the works and might be operated by a US airline. And no-frills carrier AirAisa might open a new route connecting Tianjin with Kuala Lumpur this March, Shao said.

Currently, a second runway - customized for exclusive use by Airbus A320s - is under construction. The primary runway and taxiway has been finished. All construction should be done before April this year, with the runway beginning operation from May 1, he said.

The economic downturn has mostly affected international cargo and passenger transportation, leaving the domestic sector in better shape.

Located in the center of the Bohai Bay region - regarded as China's third economic growth engine - Tianjin enjoys preferential central government policies.

In accordance with the central government's goal of making Tianjin "Northern China's economic and logistics center", TBIA said it hopes to become "Northern China's aviation logistics center and portal hub".

Source: China Daily

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