Foreign airlines set for takeoff in China

08:18, July 29, 2010      

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Foreign airlines can expect to receive more flight slots in the future at the country's busiest airport in the capital, as a result of government efforts to increase transparency and build an international hub, an official said on Wednesday.

He Yan, director of slot management for the North China regional administration of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said the entire process of slot distribution would go online in August.

This means airlines will be able to monitor the regional administration, which is responsible for allocating flight slots at Beijing Capital International Airport. The airport is currently the third busiest in the world in terms of passenger flow.

"Any carrier dissatisfied with the result of flight slot distribution can report and complain to the discipline authorities of both the CAAC and the regional bureau," he said, adding that it is the first time discipline departments will be involved in the allocation of slots.

The move came after the civil aviation authority was recently questioned over how flight slots are allocated at busy airports.

A few senior civil aviation officials were placed under investigation for corruption after accepting bribes in exchange for flight slots. Some airlines also complained about the difficulty of getting a choice slot at the capital airport, media reported.

"These past problems were caused by individuals' lack of virtue and a flawed system. Government distribution of flight slots, instead of other ways like bidding, is still the most viable solution," he said.

The capital airport currently handles 1,400 flights a day, or a maximum of 83 flights per hour. Too many airlines want to push their way into the airport in the pursuit of profit, he said.

Currently, 24 foreign airlines are applying for 27 flight slots at the capital airport, in addition to many other applications from domestic carriers.

He said priority will be given to international flights to help the capital airport become the Asia-Pacific regional hub.

To be classified as an international hub, the percentage of international flights at the capital airport must increase from the current 20 percent to 50 percent.

Flights linking countries that have no previous air links with China, and flights that link Beijing with another capital for the first time, will both be considered as priorities.

The bureau will also initiate efforts next year to move some flights to nearby Shijiazhuang airport to make more room for international flights, He said, adding that passengers will be freely transported from Shijiazhuang to Beijing on a 40-minute high-speed rail link, which is due to be completed next year.

By Xin Dingding, China Daily


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