[photopress:china_airlines.jpg,full,alignright]China’s aviation regulator has stopped accepting applications to set up new airlines until 2010. This, like the new restrictions on flights into Beijing, is part of effort to ease manpower and airspace shortages. These have been caused by the massive growth in air travel. However, it may be worth mentioning that the major airlines are, in effect and in fact, owned by the government.
And the move also has a protectionist flavor, with the government making an exception for the establishment of airlines that use Chinese-made regional jets, the first of which are expected to begin test flights this year.
Further exemptions will be made for freight airlines and carriers that use mostly foreign pilots, promise to fly at night, or which fly to impoverished regions in China’s west and north-east.
However, there is no doubt that there are many overly optimistic aspirant carriers who want to get into the airline industry ahead of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.
This, as stated, is an addition, an extension, to the cut in the number of flights in and out of Beijing Capital International Airport. The initial step is a cut of 48 a day but more flight cuts are planned for major cities including Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Mainland Chinese airlines carried 45.81 million passengers in the second quarter of this year, up 17.5% from the same period a year earlier. Six major airlines – China Southern Airlines, Air China, China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines and Hainan Airlines – account for more than 90% of passengers carried in China.
China has so far approved the establishment of just three private airlines: Beijing-based Okay Airways, Chengdu-based United Eagle Airlines and Shanghai-based Air Spring.
Sources: CargoNews Asia and The Financial Times