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Regional aviation is not flight of fancy

By  Yang Jian   (Shanghai Daily)

09:09, March 12, 2013

THE high cost and insufficient government support have hampered China's regional aviation and more should be done to meet the demand of short-distance flights in the western part of the country, senior officials of the country's major aircraft makers said yesterday.

Several domestic hub airports shut out regional and turboprop aircraft, and this has greatly hindered the development of regional aviation, according to Wu Guanghui, vice manager of the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China.

"Moreover, regional aviation has higher costs per kilometer than that of long-distance flights because the regional jets take fewer passengers and fly shorter distances," Wu said in Beijing.

Since regional jets mostly operate in the country's remote areas, the operators can hardly raise ticket prices to balance the high costs, Wu said, adding that although the government has funds to support the regional aviation operators, the money was insufficient.

Tang Changhong, chief designer of the First Aircraft Institute under the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, suggested the government encourage regional jets to land and take off at hub airports as well as allocate more subsidies to the regional carriers.

He said as there is huge demand for regional aviation in the northwest and southwest of the country, there are pans to build more airports for regional jets in these regions.

Regional flights are defined by aircraft which seat fewer than 70 passengers or fly routes of up to 800 kilometers.

Passengers fly to hub airports and transfer to regional jets to continue their journey to small and remote cities.

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