Helicopters to cut HK, Shenzhen travel time

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A maiden helicopter flight between Guangdong province and neighboring Hong Kong was launched on Friday in Shenzhen, a move that will greatly increase travel efficiency between the economic powerhouse in South China and the special administrative region.

The cross-border helicopter flight would help cut travel time to Hong Kong from Shenzhen to just 15 minutes, according to Shenzhen Eastern General Aviation.

Usually it takes about three hours by land, given that crossborder customs clearance consumes a lot of time.

"Demand for cross-border flight service is increasing between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, where a number of transnational companies have already developed huge overseas businesses," said Zhao Lin, chairman of Shenzhen Eastern General Aviation.

According to Zhao, the company is committed to building a faster transportation network in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area by building up to 1,000 helipads within the next five years.

"The faster low-altitude flight network will expand to 500 kilometers around Shenzhen," said Zhao, adding the Greater Bay Area will be enabled with a 15-minute trip by helicopter within the next few years.

In addition to business travel, the cross-border helicopter flight will also be used for emergency medical service and tourism, according to Zhao.

"The Greater Bay Area has unique tourism resources-from Hong Kong's Victoria Harbor to Shenzhen Bay, visitors are able to have a perfect view of the cities," said Zhao.

Citing Huawei Technologies, which has developed great demand for overseas business travel because 70 percent of its business is related to the overseas market, Su Wei, deputy director of the civil aviation development of the Shenzhen transportation bureau, said more helicopter bases would be built.

The cross-border helicopter service would help increase business and social integration between Hong Kong and other cities in the Greater Bay Area, according to Su.

Helicopters used in the maiden flight are the Airbus 135 light twin-engine helicopter, which has a relatively big space and higher safety standard, according to Marie-Agnes Veve, general manager of Airbus Helicopters China.

"China is the most promising helicopter market in the world. We will introduce more models to the market," she said.

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