Yunnan’s first private airlines make maiden flights

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Updated: 2014-05-21

Yunnan province’s first private airlines - Ruili Airlines and Dehong South Asian General Aviation - held a maiden flight celebration ceremony on May 18 at the Kunming Changshui International Airport.

“The two airline companies are Yunnan Jingcheng Group’s wholly owned subsidiaries, and the successful maiden flights on May 18 mark the day that our group’s sky dream comes true,” said Ma Zhanwei, vice president of Yunnan Jingcheng Group and general manager of Ruili Airline.

Ruili Airline was approved by the Civil Aviation Administration of China on May 20, 2013, and it was the first public air transportation company approved by the State since 2007.

Ruili Airline obtained a public air transportation operating license on Feb 10, 2014.

Dehong South Asian Airline was approved and obtained the license on Nov 18, 2013.

According to Ma, Ruili Airline is the fifth largest airline based in Yunnan province, which targets Southeast Asia routes and welcomes passengers throughout the nation. It can carry passengers and cargo transportation at Kunming Changshui International Airport.

So far, Ruili Airline has invested 12 billion yuan ($1.92 billion).

“Ruili Airline ordered 18 aircraft from Boeing and Air Berlin in August 2013. And now the Boeing 737-700 and Boeing 737-800 aircraft are here. So we will open six new flight routes soon, including Kunming-Chengdu, Kunming-Wenzhou, Kunming-Nanchang, Kunming-Beihai and Kunming-Hefei,” Ma said.

Ma said the rich resources in Yunnan provided the conditions for developing the aviation business. Statistics show that in 2013, Yunnan province received 5.34 million overseas tourists, a 16.5 percent increase, and 239.7 million domestic tourists, a 22.1 percent increase.

Zhao Wei, general manager of Dehong South Asian General Aviation, said the company is a general aviation enterprise created by the merger of Dehong Business Jet Limited and Jingcheng Helicopter Limited. The company is based at Dehong Mangshi Airport with various lines of business, including onshore and offshore oil services, medical aid, business aviation, flight rental services and urban fire control.

Dehong South Asian has invested 1.1 billion yuan and aims to open flight routes to popular tourist destinations in Yunnan province, including Ruili, Mangshi, Lijiang, Dali and Shangri-la.

The company has ordered five advanced aircraft: a Boeing BBJ Business jet, a Gulfstream G550, two Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and a Sikorsky S-76D helicopter.

There are approximately 20,000 airports in the US, while China has only 400. Also, there are about 200,000 helicopters and business jets in the US, while China has only 1,000 helicopters and business jets. But China has huge potential in the general aviation field, as it has 1.3 billion people and the economy is still growing, Zhao said.

Ma is optimistic about the future of the aviation industry. He said Ruili Airline will grow into an airline company with 45 aircraft and operate flight routes to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Bangkok, Mandalay and Phnom Penh. Dehong South Asian Aviation aims to become a well-known business jet and helicopter operator in China, by increasing its scale to 15 aircraft.

Ruili city, in Southwest China’s Yunnan province, is one of the three development and opening-up pilot regions in China. According to the State Council’s opinion issued in July 2012, it will encourage and guide private capital injection in civil aviation and suggests establishing diversified equity investment (fund) enterprises.

So far, 12 airports are in Yunnan province and the number will increase by 2020. By then, there will be 20 civil airports and 45 general airports, with 410 domestic and international routes, covering 90 percent of Yunnan’s population.

Yunnan Governor Li Jiheng said, “We will construct a complete transportation system, connecting nationwide, Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia, and develop Yunnan into a safe, convenient, effective, green and strong province in civil aviation.”

Focus will be put on the construction of a three-stage flights network, connecting home and abroad, also places within the province.

Also, it will explore establishing a new international shipping point, with the intention of making Yunnan a significant air hub connecting China, India and Burma and ASEAN regions.

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