Airlines pledge Olympic support

By Liu Weifeng (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-08-25 08:33

Representatives of foreign airlines on Friday agreed to make every effort to ensure that visitors to the Beijing Olympics enjoy the smoothest possible arrival in the Chinese capital.

"Thousands of athletes, journalists and visitors will begin their Olympics journey by getting on board your and our airlines," said Li Jiangmin, director of the Department of International Affairs & Cooperation under the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC).

He was speaking to some 110 representatives from 58 overseas passenger airline carriers after guiding them through the just-finished Terminal Three, which greatly increases the airport's handling capacity.

The foreign airlines have each agreed to select a chief representative as "first person responsible for the Olympic project in China and should have a 'special envoy' for the Olympics in the company."

Li told China Daily that the airport will see some 1,400 flights arrive and depart every day when the Games begin next August.

At the moment, before the airport's new Terminal Three becomes operational, the airport is on a "slim flight plan", cutting some 100 domestic flights to ensure flight safety and ease congestion. It aims to handle 1,000 flights a day by October.

H.C. Kwok, country director China of US-based Continental Airlines, said he is optimistic about the Beijing airport's future and hopes to see more business deals after the completion of the airport's expansion project.

The company currently has one daily flight to Beijing and Hong Kong respectively.

Delta, another US airline, is not that lucky since it has no direct flights to Beijing.

"We are hoping to win a deal by applying in 2009," said Burt Pinoli, Delta's general manager for China, Korea, Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

The company currently only has some sporadic business with China, including a code share agreement with China Southern Airlines and helping China International Airlines and China Eastern Airlines to develop their business in the United States.

Aihara Hikaru, airport manager China of Japan Airlines, said, "China is our largest international partner. We have three flights taking off from Beijing every day."

Terminal Three, consisting of three separate parts, covering an area of 515,000, 387,000 and 99,000 sq m respectively, is the largest in Asia and will be responsible for handling charter flights for the Olympics, Special Olympics and those carrying national leaders.

The red-roofed terminal is set to open on a trial basis next February.

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