Title : China to open more air routes ahead of Olympics
Date : 22 August 2006 1424 hrs (SST)
URL : http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stori...cific_business/view/226189/1/.html
BEIJING : China will open more international and domestic air corridors to ease growing aviation traffic problems ahead of the 2008 Olympics, state press reported Tuesday.
New air corridors are being planned from Beijing to Japan, South Korea and Mongolia, the China Daily reported, citing the General Administration of Civil Aviation.
The extra international routes come after China opened another air corridor to Europe in April which cut flight times by half and hour.
Domestically, second routes will be introduced from Beijing to Shanghai and Guangzhou in the south, while a new corridor over the ocean will also open between Shanghai and Hong Kong, the newspaper said.
The report said the extra routes were needed to ease rising aviation traffic congestion in China, particularly ahead of the Olympics when passenger numbers are expected to spike sharply.
The International Air Transport Association has lobbied China to open more air corridors, with the organisation's director general, Giovanni Bisignani, raising the issue when he came to Beijing last month.
Bisignani said China's air passenger numbers were expected to grow by 9.6 percent annually until 2009, with the nation remaining one of the world's fastest growing aviation markets.
The China Daily cited the association as saying air traffic was expected to jump by 15 percent during the period of the 2008 Olympic Games, and carried quotes from flag carrier Air China welcoming the extra air corridors.
"This will be great news for airlines," the paper quoted Air China spokesman Wang Yongsheng as saying.
"With these routes added, more flights can arrive on time and fewer planes need to circle around waiting for permission to land."
Chinese airlines carried 74.25 million passengers in the first half of 2006, up 17.9 percent from the same period a year earlier, while air cargo traffic increased 11.4 percent to 1.56 million tons, state press reports have said.
- AFP /ct