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Volume 14,Issue 3 Autumn 2012

Hainan to open freedom rights to boost aviation


China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has approved the plan to open more air routes in Hainan province by granting third, fourth and fifth freedom rights to airlines. Hainan, the smallest province in China, will form two full flight sectors to the north and south in its bid to become a regional international air hub. In recent years, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the Hainan provincial government have been studying the possibility of opening more air routes in and out of Hainan. In 2004, they developed a plan to open an air route from Hainan’s main island to the south to link with international air routes above the South China Sea and above the North Bay. According to Han Shengchou, chief of the Hainan Flight Freedom Office, there were seven international air routes in Hainan as of 2006, used by about a hundred airlines. Flights from Hainan to Japan, Korea and Europe lack convenient air routes. Domestic and foreign airlines flying to Hainan have to fly a longer distance, costing more and taking more time. The adjustment of air routes will shorten the flight distance of international flights in and out of Hainan and greatly reduce costs for airlines. For example, the round-trip flight between Hainan city of Sanya and Singapore used to cover a distance of 6,311 km and took about 8 hours. When the air route was solved, the flight distance was reduced to 2,224 km and flight time to 2.5 hours. If a Boeing 737 flies the air route, about RMB 123,000 in costs could be saved. The distance and flight hours of a round-trip flight between Haikou and Singapore was reduced from 5,937 km and 7.5 hours to 1,153 km and 87 minutes. By calculating the 772 flights from Hainan to Southeast Asia in 2005, the adjustment in the air route could save airlines about RMB 60 million. Last year, 18 new international airlines started flying to Hainan, adding 30 new international flights. International aircraft movements reached 5,443, up by 34.6 percent compared to 2005 and 24 percent higher than the average domestic flight increase level. The air route adjustment will ease the flight bottleneck at Hainan and will enhance the link to Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. It will also provide convenience for flights to Korea, Japan and Russia. Han disclosed that his office is negotiating with the military and civil aviation air traffic management departments for an earlier implementation of the plan.

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