Air safety new top priority
( 2004-01-15 23:03) (China Daily)
China's top civil aviation authority vowed yesterday to further step up flight security management and create a better air safety record.
Air safety control has become the top priority on the agenda of General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) in its reform efforts for the nation's civil aviation industry in 2004 CAAC's director Yang Yuanyuan said at a news conference..
A three-tiered safety regulation spelling out responsibilities for top, regional and local safety supervision offices is to be set up, the director said.
Safety standards are to be upgraded, and aviation businesses will be encouraged to adopt higher safety standards than required by government regulations to ensure safer flights, Yang said.
A system is to be established to inspect operational safety of foreign airlines that serve Chinese destinations to issue them operational standards.
"CAAC will make every effort to reinforce aviation security and step up security checks and keep improving detailed anti-hijacking plans while doing solid work in building an air marshal force," Yang said.
Since the fatal China Northern Airline's air crash that killed 112 people in Dalian in Northeast China's Liaoning Province on May 7, 2002, Chinese airlines have boasted a safe record of 3.03 million continuous flying hours. That exceeds the previous record of 2.7 million hours.
However, the director said he feels pressure "on his shoulders'' since the number of flights in Chinese air space has grown to 4,000 every day. "As is often said, security has no end and a new starting point forever," he said.
While strengthening the security management of airlines, CAAC will also push to improve ground services in domestic airports. Travelers have made many complaints about serviced, according to Yang.
Service charges in airports are expected to be lowered, he said.
When talking about the opening of the nation's fuel-oil market,s the director said that foreign capital is encouraged in the industry although the Chinese side must hold dominant shares in joint ventures.
"With the opening of the country's civil aviation industry, the monopoly of Air China on the fuel-oil supply will be broken and CAAC is pushing more aviation businesses to compete in the market," Yang said.
Yang told the news conference his administration is considering trials to open up low-cost airlines in the country, though a disparity still exists in the industry on what a low-cost airline is and how such airline should be realized in China.
Two privately owned companies and a tourist service agency in the country have applied to CAAC for establishing such airline companies, according to Yang, but he refused to give their names.
"CAAC will carry out overall examinations about their feasibility and economic capacities before they are approved," he said.
Yang added that the two also have to reach the national standard for air safety and security before they will be allowed to transport passengers and cargo.
Though suffering a big blow from the SARS epidemic in the period from April to June of last year, the country's civil aviation sector achieved remarkable success last year.
CAAC's statistics show the sector saw a total transport volume of 17.07 billion tons per kilometres, up 3.5 per cent; transported 87.59 million passengers and 2.19 million tons of cargo and mail, up 1.9 and 8.4 per cent.
In the coming Spring Festival holidays, Chinese airlines are predicted to transport 1.1 million people, up 15 per cent over last year's holiday.
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