[Updated July 30 with new information]
China plans to offer financial incentives to airlines from North Asia to launch flights to underserved “regional” airports. The incentives will include a discount on landing and parking charges. Authorities expect the changes to take effect next summer.
According to an official at the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in Beijing, officials have yet to determine the value of planned discounts. Once they arrive at a formula, they will submit a plan to the National Development and Reform Commission, also in Beijing, for approval.
Airlines launching flights into the regional airports must start with a minimum of three flights a week to benefit from the incentives. Carriers that already are operating to the targeted destinations when the program gets implemented would benefit from incentives for any subsequent services they mount.
China counts 42 regional airports in its air transport system. They include Haikou Meilan International Airport in Hainan province, Harbin Taiping International Airport (Heilongjiang), Fuzhou Changle International Airport (Fujian), Hohhot Baita International Airport (Hohhot), Nanchang Changbei International Airport (Jianxi) and Changshun Longija International Airport in Jilin, all of which the official identified as underused and positioned for tremendous growth.
Of the total 246 airports now in operation in China, in addition to the regionals, 20 fall under the major category, while the remaining 184 are domestic.
Most of the 184 domestic airports operate at a loss every year. The China Airport Development Fund, 6 percent of whose revenues Chinese carriers contribute, subsidizes the losses. Last year 144 airports, including a few classified as regional, posted a combined loss of $1.97 billion.
Separately, flights in and out of major airports across eastern China were badly disrupted on July 29 in a situation confused by conflicting statements from different parts of the Chinese government. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) confirmed that around three quarters of all flights into Shanghai’s Pudong and Hongqiao airports were cancelled between 2 p.m. and 6 pm. due to “congestion”, while all inbound flights to eight other airports in the same region and northbound flights from nine airports in the southeast of the country. CAAC did not officially acknowledge the “congestion” to have been due to military exercises but the term has commonly been given as the reason for delays at times when the military has temporarily restricted access to airspace. At the same time, China’s defense ministry issued a statement saying that it would try to minimise the impact of military training exercises on commercial air traffic but at the same time said that adverse weather conditions had been the main cause of flight delays. Official CAAC weather reports for July 29 showed completely clear skies and no storms that might have disrupted traffic.
at the same time China’s defense ministry confirmed