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Old September 15th, 2013, 08:03 AM   #1541
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Old September 17th, 2013, 06:25 PM   #1542
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World's highest-altitude civilian airport starts operating



The photo taken on Sept. 16, 2013 shows the terminal interior of Daocheng Yading Airport, in Daocheng County, Garzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Sichuan Province. Daocheng Yading Airport, the world's highest-altitude civilian airport, started operating on Monday. The traffic time between the county and the provincial capital of Chengdu is cut from two days by bus to 65 minutes by plane upon the operation of the new airport. (Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing)



Airport staff members greet the first plane arriving at Daocheng Yading Airport, in Daocheng County, Garzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Sept. 16, 2013. Daocheng Yading Airport, the world's highest-altitude civilian airport, started operating on Monday. The traffic time between the county and the provincial capital of Chengdu is cut from two days by bus to 65 minutes by plane upon the operation of the new airport. (Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing)



A plane of Air China arrives at Daocheng Yading Airport, in Daocheng County, Garzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Sept. 16, 2013. Daocheng Yading Airport, the world's highest-altitude civilian airport, started operating on Monday. The traffic time between the county and the provincial capital of Chengdu is cut from two days by bus to 65 minutes by plane upon the operation of the new airport. (Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing)



A plane takes off from Daocheng Yading Airport, in Daocheng County, Garzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Sichuan Province, Sept. 16, 2013. Daocheng Yading Airport, the world's highest-altitude civilian airport, started operating on Monday. The traffic time between the county and the provincial capital of Chengdu is cut from two days by bus to 65 minutes by plane upon the operation of the new airport. (Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing)



The photo taken on Sept. 16, 2013 shows the terminal interior of Daocheng Yading Airport, in Daocheng County, Garzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China's Sichuan Province. Daocheng Yading Airport, the world's highest-altitude civilian airport, started operating on Monday. The traffic time between the county and the provincial capital of Chengdu is cut from two days by bus to 65 minutes by plane upon the operation of the new airport. (Xinhua/Jiang Hongjing)
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Old October 2nd, 2013, 04:30 PM   #1543
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Chinese airline industry battles delays as passenger numbers grow
1 October 2013
Guardian

China is building new facilities, addressing inefficiencies and cracking down on false threats to help improve its appalling punctuality record

When the young flight attendant joined a major Chinese airline last year, he received the usual training: how to evacuate an aircraft, how to serve food – and how to keep his cool with even the toughest passengers. "Our principle is: do not shout back, even if the customer curses you. Do not fight back, even if you are getting beaten," he explained.

Such lessons are becoming more important; at one Hong Kong airline, cabin crews are learning kung fu. There were more than two dozen fights at airports this summer. The steward has had to stop passengers from breaking down the door to get off a delayed plane, but might count himself lucky: in other cases, angry travellers have trashed airline offices, thumped attendants and even stormed runways.

The aggression is largely sparked by the country's appalling punctuality record. Beijing Capital has the worst delays of the world's 35 largest airports, according to the US website FlightStats. In July less than a fifth of planes left on time; Shanghai was not much better. Not one Chinese airport saw even half its flights depart punctually. Though Beijing's record improved slightly in August, fewer than three in 10 flights were on schedule.

On Monday China announced it was cracking down on false terrorist threats, which have contributed to flight delays and diversions, threatening to jail offenders for more than five years. Xinhua said there had been 80 fake threats to flights and airports this year. But experts say the bigger issue is the massive growth of the airline industry, coupled with air traffic restrictions related to the military use of airspace.

The military controls around 80% of the airspace, according to a civil aviation administration official, compared to around 20% in Europe or the US.

Cheng-Lung Wu, who researches aviation punctuality at the University of New South Wales, said: "Military exercises take the priority over civilian aviation and often when a military exercise is on it also uses civilian airspace. Here come the air traffic-related delays for your flights: the available airspace is now squeezed even further."

There were 296m domestic passenger journeys in 2012, up almost 9% on the previous year, and the International Air Transport Association predicts almost 200 million more Chinese passengers will have taken to the skies by the end of 2016. Work is under way at dozens of sites to add to China's 180-plus airports, including a vast new facility at Beijing, which already boasts the world's second largest terminal. Last month the world's highest civilian airport opened on the Tibetan plateau.

A third of all passengers travel through three cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Chunyan Yu, an expert on airport and airline performance measurement at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said Beijing Capital was now the world's second busiest airport in terms of passengers. "The commercial flights are strictly restricted to certain flight paths [so] those 'highways in the air' are very congested – the same as congested highways during rush hours. As flights are already tightly scheduled, there is really no room for recovery."

A private pilot compared US airspace to a soccer pitch: "You can wander from point to point, crossing each other. In China, everyone gets in a line."

Travellers blame airline inefficiency. Wu cited a lengthy delay he experienced at Shanghai not long ago: "The pilot said it was weather conditions, but outside it was sunny."

China also takes an extremely cautious approach to the flow of flights, with unusually long gaps between takeoffs and landings, following crashes in the early 1990s. It has had an excellent safety record over recent years.

Other procedures could easily improve, say experts. In China, pilots must prepare for push-back and takeoff before telling air traffic control they are ready and sitting in a queue. Elsewhere, controllers advise pilots on the outlook in advance, so they do not have to sit at the gate with their engines running, wasting fuel while the passengers on board grow angrier.

Officials have now ordered flights from major airports to take off even if there is no clear landing slot at their destination – one possible reason for August's punctuality improvement at Beijing. Experts see that as a patch rather than a solution, and not an ideal one. "It is more risky to keep the airplanes waiting in the sky. It increases emissions and, more importantly, it extends the pilots' flying time," warned one scholar from the Civil Aviation Flight University of China, who asked not to be named.

Nor is it clear that tired passengers will find extended flights more enjoyable than long waits prior to takeoff. Delays have already encouraged some to switch to the country's fast-expanding high-speed train network instead.

Additional research by Cecily Huang
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Old October 5th, 2013, 08:48 AM   #1544
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Old October 7th, 2013, 06:32 PM   #1545
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Old October 10th, 2013, 04:58 AM   #1546
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China Air Travel Soared in Golden Week
9 October 2013
The Wall Street Journal Asia

HONG KONG -- China's economic slowdown has had little impact on demand for air travel, particularly during Golden Week, when more than 7.7 million passengers took to the air during the national holiday at home and abroad.

The number of passengers flying during the seven-day Golden Week vacation which began on Oct. 1 -- National Day -- exceeded the 7.2-million-passenger estimate by China's aviation regulator. The number also was up 15.8% from a year earlier, indicating strong demand despite a new law that forbids travel agencies from offering cut-rate package tours to boost travel demand.

Many Chinese travel agencies had been selling travel packages at narrow margins or even at a loss, hoping that commissions earned from tourists shopping at assigned retailers -- and additional fees for tourist destinations during the trip -- could subsidize a key part of their costs.

The nation's air-travel market is booming despite softening economic growth and a frugality campaign spearheaded by Chinese President Xi Jinping that has weighed on sales of first- and business-class services.

However, a pickup in air-traffic demand in China, home to the world's fastest-growing tourism market, emerged at the start of the third quarter as the leisure-travel industry entered its traditional peak season during the summer holiday from July.

China Eastern Airlines Corp., one state carrier that has been hit hard by lingering political tensions between China and Japan, recorded improving traffic volume in July and August, with an average load factor, or proportion of seats filled, of 82.7% in August, the highest in 2013 so far.

Chinese flag carrier Air China Ltd. transported 8.3% more passengers, or 7.41 million, in August.

Flights to popular domestic tourist spots such as the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, and Haikou and Sanya on China's resort island of Hainan recorded a load factor of almost 90%, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on its website Tuesday. Meanwhile, the load factor on flights to airports in the nation's five major cities -- Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Shenzhen -- remained at more than 85% during the weeklong holiday.

According to preliminary estimates, 76,000 flights were made during the Golden Week holiday, of which Chinese airlines operated a combined 55,000 flights, up 12.8% from a year earlier.
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Old October 10th, 2013, 07:31 PM   #1547
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Chinese Airlines Lure Pilots With Double the Pay of U.S. Captains
Carriers Boost Salaries to Hire Seasoned Crews, Causing Shortage Across Asia
24 August 2013
The Wall Street Journal

HONG KONG—China is snapping up the world's supply of senior pilots, contributing to a global shortage and creating headwinds for Asia's fast-expanding airlines.

China is among the world's fastest-growing air-travel markets, with domestic passenger traffic second only to the U.S., with the market expanding 14.7% in June compared with a year earlier, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The rising middle class in China means millions more people are taking to the skies. Beijing plans soon to allow even more growth in its tightly controlled sector by encouraging the development of budget airlines, which are already booming across Asia.

Chinese carriers have more than 800 commercial airliners on order, on top of 2,088 now flying. Each plane requires about six two-person flight crews, creating demand for thousands of new pilots. Chinese airlines lack sufficient locally trained candidates.

The shortage illustrates an endemic problem in China's rapidly expanding economy, where the development of infrastructure and professional skills hasn't kept pace with surging demand. The country also struggles to retain expatriate talent amid worsening pollution concerns and rising consumer prices.

China isn't alone in its need. Boeing Co. estimates that the broader Asian-Pacific region will require 185,600 new pilots between 2012 and 2031, accounting for 40% of global pilot demand. The region today has 56,000 pilots, or roughly 26% of the global total, according to Boeing.

Chinese airlines are wooing experienced foreign pilots by upping the pay for captains. Some carriers are advertising annual salaries and benefits of up to $270,000, or roughly double the average wage of a U.S. airline captain.

"You've got a shrinking supply [of experienced pilots], so the answer is to increase pay," said Mark East, managing director at New Zealand-based Rishworth Aviation, the largest airline-pilot recruiting firm in Asia, with 600 contract pilots in the region. He said Chinese airlines have raised their pay offers to foreign pilots by up to 30% in the past 18 months to cope with the growing shortage.

Chinese airlines account for more than 60% of the recruitment postings for captains on the careers website of Flightglobal, an industry publication.

While China is training more local crews, pilots still need roughly a decade of experience before they can be promoted to captain. The air-travel boom has outpaced that maturation. Today, nearly all Chinese airlines employ foreign crews. Americans represent the largest proportion.

Chinese carriers started hiring foreign pilots in 2003. They now account for roughly 6% of the commercial-pilot workforce, with 1,778 foreign-pilot licenses issued as of last year, according to China's aviation regulator.

Among the Chinese airlines offering top salaries are Hainan Airlines Co., which is promoting net annual packages of up to $270,000, and Shenzhen Airlines Co., with packages valued at up to $231,600, according to the Flightglobal listings.

These salaries are on par with what the most senior captains at premium airlines make and well above world standards. Average captain's pay at a major U.S. airline is $135,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Rich Chinese compensation comes with heavy work loads, however. Paul Schneider, an Australian who worked as a Boeing 737 captain with a major Chinese airline in 2010 and 2011, said the duty times for foreign pilots in China were among the longest he's ever seen, particularly for those working short domestic flights.

China's appetite for senior pilots is hurting many smaller Asian upstarts, which too are eager to expand but must compete for crews.

"We are the ones feeling the pinch of the pilot shortage…the smaller carriers are in a battle to attract quality pilots," said David Wilmot, acting director of flight operations at Jet Asia Airways Co., a Thailand-based charter airline with six Boeing 767s that employs mostly foreign pilots.

Mr. Wilmot says the exorbitant salaries some of the Chinese airlines are willing to pay are "just putting us out of the market" for pilots. Many airlines in Southeast Asia pay expat captains around half of some of the Chinese carriers' best recent offers.

Worsening the captain shortage: aging veterans, particularly in the U.S. "There is a tsunami of retirement which is now under way in the airline industry," said John Bent, a consultant to the International Air Transport Association, a global industry group. "We've got potentially the first big pilot supply problem" in years, he said.

The improving U.S. airline market is further aggravating Asia's problems because overseas American pilots are heading home, Asian airline executives say. Hiring foreign pilots was much easier three years ago, they say, but the supply has recently flattened out.
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Old October 12th, 2013, 09:42 AM   #1548
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Old October 13th, 2013, 12:25 AM   #1549
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Old October 13th, 2013, 03:23 PM   #1550
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Old October 24th, 2013, 08:21 PM   #1551
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Aviation giant urges further reforms to boost industry

HAIKOU, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) -- Despite China's position as the world's second-largest aviation power, the country still needs to further open up the industry to meet growing public demand for air services, Chen Feng, board chairman of Hainan Airlines Group, said on Thursday.

Air traffic congestion and flight delays have become the major public complaints about China's aviation industry, which went through a boom period led by the country's reform and opening-up policy launched in 1978.

"The problems reflect that the level of development of the aviation industry still lags far behind the growth of the country's economy and people's living standards," Chen said in an interview with Xinhua.

China's aviation industry, which had for years been operated by the state and state-control enterprises, has witnessed fast development after the government pulled away from enterprise management and gradually opened the sector to private capital.

Official data from China's Civil Aviation Administration showed that the number of air travellers in the country increased 11 percent year on year in the first nine months of the year.

However, flight schedules for nearly 20 airports, which carried 75 percent of the total air passengers in China, were affected by delays or cancellations due to air traffic congestion.

If the government fails to carry out new reforms, the sector will face great challenges in coping with an explosion of demand in the future, Chen said.

Chen, who founded the Hainan Airlines Group in 1993, has grasped the opportunity brought by the government's reform policies since 1978 to boost his company, which combines capital from the state as well as private and foreign sources.

"Once a monopolized sector, China's aviation sector has explored a new development path aided by the country's reform efforts -- a great achievement that can be used as a reference by other monopolized sectors," Chen said.

However, the sector has encountered growth bottlenecks in recent years, as demand for air transport also surged as a result of the country's economic take-off.

Rigid requirements for market access and aircraft purchases, rigid airspace control, high tariffs on aviation equipment imports and the lack of aviation professionals have all constrained further development of the civil aviation industry, according to Chen.

As China's new government, which took office in March, focuses on reducing its intervention in the economy, Chen expects aviation authorities to follow suit.

Chen said that the urgent task for the government now is to open the aviation transport market to all types of capital, and to improve both airline management and airspace control mechanisms.

Hainan Airlines Group, the parent company of China's fourth-largest carrier by fleet size, earned 127 million yuan (20.87 million U.S. dollars) in revenue last year, marking an annualized growth rate of 44 percent.
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Old November 3rd, 2013, 01:56 PM   #1552
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Old November 15th, 2013, 06:09 PM   #1553
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Old November 17th, 2013, 02:18 PM   #1554
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HNA Chairman Sees China Warming to Budget Flights
"Low-Cost Era Has Arrived," Chen Feng Says
15 November 2013
The Wall Street Journal

HONG KONG—China is warming to the idea of domestic budget flights and demand will be "tremendous" as airlines rethink their offerings to compete with high-speed rail and road travel, HNA Group Co. Chairman Chen Feng said.

Mr. Chen, the founder of China's fourth-biggest airline, said the development of budget-carrier services in the country is "an inevitable trend" even though local airlines have been slow to adopt the low-cost model. High-speed trains running throughout the country have stolen away customers on short-haul domestic routes, he said.

Chinese regulators have protected state airlines from the incursion of low-cost carriers, but that stance now appears to be changing as the government encourages airlines to boost efficiency and reduce costs in the face of competition from Asian budget airlines. The domestic market accounts for the bulk of revenue at Chinese airlines.

"The low-cost airline era in China has arrived," Mr. Chen told The Wall Street Journal in an interview on Friday. "We have anticipated this trend and made ourselves ready by investing in two budget airlines."

China's deputy civil aviation chief said last week the government is looking at measures such as easing restrictions on plane purchases and imports and reforming how airport slots are allocated, in the hope of providing a more favorable environment for budget carriers. Those comments followed the lifting in May of a six-year ban on the establishment of independent airlines.

Mr. Chen said HNA Group, which has businesses ranging from transportation to hotels, has converted its regional carrier Hong Kong Express Airways and Chongqing-based West Air Co. into low-cost airlines, in competition with the nation's sole budget operator Spring Airline Co.

"China has restrictions on aircraft purchases, so it's hard to predict our fleet growth plans. The faster [regulators] approve our purchase plans, the quicker we can expand," Mr. Chen said.

Budget flights into China are only available on a handful of routes. Malaysia's AirAsia Bhd., Singapore's Scoot and Australia's Jetstar Airways operate some of those flights.

Mr. Chen said he doesn't expect HNA's low-cost operations to directly compete with its full-service airline, Hainan Airlines Co., which will continue to focus on expanding key routes and to international destinations. Hainan Airlines, which counts billionaire financier George Soros as an investor, competes with the state-run Air China Ltd., China Southern Airlines Co. and China Eastern Airlines Corp.

In just over a decade, Mr. Chen expanded HNA Group from a relatively unknown entity outside the country to a major Chinese purchaser of international assets. Its investments include several commercial properties in New York City, as well as a stake in Spanish hotel chain NH Hoteles SA and in marine container leasing company GE SeaCo, formerly part-owned by General Electric Co.

Mr. Chen said the group will continue to look for overseas investment opportunities to take advantage of lower asset prices.

"Now is a good time to invest overseas. We're looking for investments which complement our existing businesses." He also noted that listing plans by its Hong Kong Airlines Co. unit remain on track, without giving a time frame. "Hong Kong Airlines will soon go public, in the foreseeable future…the more funds we raise the better."

Mr. Chen said HNA Group's shipping unit has settled most of its disputes with shipowners involving ship charter contracts, but he declined to elaborate.

The shipping operation had signed on to charter rates of more than $50,000 a day at the peak of the shipping boom, but the financial crisis in late 2008 and subsequent oversupply in shipping capacity drastically reduced the prevailing rates to $10,000, pushing the company to seek lower contract prices.

In one dispute, Chinese shipowner Shagang Shipping Co. accused HNA Group's shipping unit of defaulting on payments and attempted to seize the cruise ship involved. The ship was sailing in South Korea at the time, and the action left more than 1,500 passengers stranded.

Write to Joanne Chiu at [email protected]
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Old November 19th, 2013, 07:25 PM   #1555
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Old November 20th, 2013, 03:58 AM   #1556
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Chinese city seeks Mideast aviation investment

DUBAI, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- China's central city of Zhengzhou aims to become the country's next aerotropolis, said its vice mayor Monday at the ongoing Dubai Airshow.

Yunwei Xue, the vice mayor, presented his city's vision to become a leading aerotropolis and promoted the China International Aviation Industry Congress slated for October 2014.

Xue said Zhengzhou was poised to become a major hub in China as it is on the focal point between Beijing and Shanghai and is " strategically located in central China."

Speaking to civil aviation professionals and the media, Xue said Zhengzhou's comprehensive experimental zone for airport economic development is now open for global civil aviation businesses after being approved by the Chinese central government this year.

The vice mayor invited the aviation industry to invest in Zhengzhou and to participate in the aviation congress.
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Old November 25th, 2013, 04:27 PM   #1557
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Old November 27th, 2013, 05:02 AM   #1558
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Air China to launch Beijing-Siem Reap direct flight

BEIJING, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- Air China has said it will launch direct flight from Beijing to Cambodia's Siem Reap next month, providing more convenience for tourists.

Using Boeing 737-800 jets, Air China will operate the new route on Wednesdays and Sundays in December. Starting from January, Air China will add flights on Mondays and Fridays.

Known for the world cultural heritage Angkor Wat, Siem Reap attracts global tourists and photographers every year.
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Old December 2nd, 2013, 06:49 PM   #1559
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Old December 10th, 2013, 04:34 AM   #1560
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Hainan Airlines to launch Beijing-Boston route

BEIJING, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- Hainan Airlines, a Chinese airline company, said on Wednesday it plans to launch direct flights between China's capital city Beijing and the U.S. city of Boston.

The company said in a press release that the service is scheduled to begin on June 20, 2014.

Flights will be available on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

The company said Boston will become the fourth city in North America that Hainan Airlines flies to. Its outbound services cover Toronto, Seattle and Chicago.
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