China is encouraging more foreign airlines to open air routes to its eastern metropolis.
The increased promotion stems from China's more active and open attitude towards international flight rights, a top civil aviation official said Wednesday.
The General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) has approved 10 airlines to open air routes to Shanghai. Some already have flights and some are planning to.
"But more foreign airlines should be granted flight rights," CAAC Minister Yang Yuanyuan said.
He made the remarks at Wednesday's Shanghai International Aviation Symposium, a three-day event sponsored by CAAC East Regional Administration, with 150 aviation enterprises, airlines and financial institutions participating.
The symposium discussed problematic issues about airport design for the Yangtze Delta, cargo service development and coordinated development of regional economic and civil aviation undertakings.
Yang said Shanghai will test new policies set by CAAC in order to push the city forward as fast as possible towards becoming an air hub.
The minister said that, starting next spring when the new timetable is operational, Shanghai airports will open to all domestic airlines and encourage them to operate scheduled flights from the city.
"This will further promote the development of base airlines and form a network on the basis of increased number of flights," he said.
At present, only China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines have bases at the two airports.
"We are also planning to further open Shanghai airports to the outside world, opening more routes to international airlines, especially cargo airlines," Yang said.
These measures would help create a favorable environment for the city to build an air hub, Yang said.
Under the guidance of CAAC, Shanghai will reinforce cooperation with airlines and airports at home and abroad, Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng said.
Han said the city will begin construction on a second terminal at Pudong Airport and put the second runway into operation next year. The project is expected to cost US$1.3 billion.
"It is a strategic measure to help the city approach an air hub on the Asia-Pacific Rim. China aims to develop from a big aviation country into a great power in aviation,'' Yang said.
The hub will boost the economic and social development of Shanghai as well as the Yangtze Delta.
He said CAAC has set a target of enabling more low-income people to enjoy air travel through the development of the aviation industry.
"The people can afford this means of transport and more remote areas can enjoy this service," Yang said.
(China Daily April 29, 2004)