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New corridor to cut flight times, delays
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Flight delays at Beijing Capital International Airport are expected to ease this summer, thanks to a new corridor that allows aircraft to bypass the city's crowded skies when flying between Europe and the southern cities of China, an official with for the air traffic management bureau said yesterday.

The corridor, which opened on Thursday, is the latest move to reduce air traffic congestion ahead of the Olympics, the bureau, which is under the General Administration of Civil Aviation, said.

With the new route, flights from Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong to Europe will on longer be required to pass through Beijing.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) said the corridor will shorten flights by an average of 60 nautical miles (111 km), save 26,000 tons of fuel and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 83,000 tons per year.

"Our estimates show the corridor will reduce air traffic over Beijing by one-sixth, or 70 to 80 flights per day," Liu Song, an official with the management bureau, said.

"For passengers and airlines, flight delays will be less than before," he said.

The experience of previous Olympic host cities has shown there will be significantly more air traffic in China's skies during the Games.

The new corridor has been dubbed the Olympic Bypass.

IATA director-general and chief executive Giovanni Bisignani said on Thursday, the Olympic Bypass demonstrates the government's commitment to improve efficiency in air traffic management.

In the past year, the air traffic bureau has made considerable effort to reduce air traffic congestion over Beijing, Liu said.

"The measures include shrinking the 'forbidden zone' over Beijing, optimizing the airspace structure over Beijing and Shanghai, and drafting temporary traffic management plans for the Games," he said.

The new corridor will be kept open after the Olympics, Liu said.

With its air travel industry forecast to boom, China has been working hard to expand its airspace.

In 2006, authorities introduced a new route that cut round-trip flight times between Europe and China by an average of 30 minutes.

And last year, the required vertical separation aircraft must keep when flying above or below one another was cut in half, which effectively doubled the number of aircraft in flight.

(China Daily April 15, 2008)

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