Air cargo set for shake-up
China is seeking to boost its air freight capability to meet increasing demand.
The nation's rapid economic growth saw an easing of restrictions toward air cargo business access last year.
Now the top civil aviation authority is formulating an aviation logistic development programme to open skyways further.
"China's air logistics are expected to grow dramatically in the coming 20 years thanks to the increase of the domestic economy and foreign trade," said Li Jun, vice-director of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC).
The programme is a part of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) of the nation's civil aviation sector. It marks a significant move that will see China will speed up its air cargo business while promoting passenger transport, insiders say.
The CAAC statistics indicate that the yearly growth rate of the air cargo business averages around 14.3 per cent in the past four years.
Last year, the freight and postal volume amounted to 2.77 million tons, an increase of 26.3 per cent from 2003.
"The administration is working out policies to widen market access and encourage private and foreign capital into the air freight business," Li said.
Last year, the CAAC approved 306 air cargo agencies to operate in China, an increase of 128 compared with the previous year.
New agreements permitting more liberal air cargo traffic have been signed between China and Malaysia. However, "the limited air fleets, the shortage of professional personnel of pilots and air crew and airspace, as well as the poor aviation infrastructure, have restricted the industry's development," said Lu Jianheng, an official from the CAAC's Planning Department. China has only 30 freight aircraft, Lu said.
Li said, air cargo enterprises are encouraged to expand their air fleets and establish business hubs.
(China Daily 05/24/2005 page2)