[photopress:ok_airways.jpg,full,alignright]China’s civil aviation administration plans to lift its control over the domestic air route operations right by 2010 which means domestic airlines would not be required to go through the current approval procedure and would only need to report the decision to fly on a certain route to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
It would give a chance to small private-owned and joint venture airlines to compete with their bigger counterparts to fly on profit-making routes. Such routes are mostly monopolized by the country’s three biggest airlines.
CAAC deputy director Yang Guoqing said in a statement posted on the administration’s website, ‘Liberalization of the air transport services is a global trend, and China will follow the trend while drafting international and domestic air transport policies. . . . We have drafted an overall policy – strengthening safety control and gradually loosening other controls’.
In 1978, the US became the first country to loosen government control over its aviation industry, and the policy has greatly stimulated the development of its airlines. This is now a global trend. In China it will mean that a large number of new airlines will arise.
Flights in and out of eight key airports – Beijing, Shanghai’s Pudong and Hongqiao, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Kunming and Dalian – as well those linking to airports with the 15 largest passenger volumes, are still under CAAC’s control.
One CAAC official said the control had been imposed because the resources of these key airports were relatively limited compared with the huge demand.
Some analysts said the three biggest airlines in China – Air China, China Eastern and China Southern – could suffer a jolt because of the CAAC decision.
The effects are already beginning to be seen with the first private airline to operate in China, Okay Airways. At the moment it operates about 20 passenger flights. None of them, however, flies to Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou. After the restrictions have been lifted no doubt those cities will be included.