CAAC pushes more air routes to Urumqi

09:45, June 21, 2010      

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The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) called for more flights to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, an announcement that follows massive expansion of investment in the majority Muslim area.

Industry analysts, however, expressed concerns over the economic feasibility of CAAC's plan.

Air bridges should be built in preparation for upcoming flows of people, goods and information that is expected to be brought in by the development program to the region, Li Jiaxiang, head of the CAAC, said at a conference held Friday in Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang.

Physically isolated and geographically harsh, the autonomous region is one of the poorest parts of the country. To address this economic disparity, the central government unleashed a massive investment program at the end of March, calling on 19 provinces and cities including Beijing, Tianjin and South China's Guangdong Province to provide support for local economic growth.

Li demanded four major airlines including Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Hainan Airlines improve their routes and flights to the region. Large- to medium-sized cities across the country and capital cities that have not opened flights to Urumqi should quickly do so, he said.

"This sounds like just an order coming from above," countered Lin Zhijie, an analyst with airline consultancy Kent Ridge Consulting.

Though the plan offers funds, subsidies and favorable policies to expanding air routes and flights to the region, it might not be financially feasible, Lin said.

If the massive development program fails to provide continued and sustainable support to the region, the expansion plan could easily fall apart, he said.

Source: Global Times


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