Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The flight to China

Open skies deal inked with US


By Xin Dingding
China Daily (China)
Copyright 2007

US passengers and businesses will have access to more frequent flights and cheaper cargo options to China after an aviation agreement was signed on Monday with the United States.

Yang Yuanyuan, minister of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), and US Transportation Secretary Mary Peters sealed the deal in Seattle, further opening up the skies between the world's two major economies.

Commercial passenger flights between US and eastern China are expected to more than double by 2012.

US airlines, currently servicing 10 flights to China a day, are permitted to increase that number to 23. Unlimited cargo flights can now occur between the US and the provinces of Anhui, Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Henan and Shanxi.

It is estimated that the agreement will generate as much as $5 billion in passenger and cargo revenue for the airline industry over the next six years, and as much as $8 billion in new economic activity in the United States, Peters said.

On the same day in Seattle, Yang and US Trade and Development Agency Acting Director Leocadia Zak signed an agreement from the agency pledging $1.69 million to fund aviation cooperation projects between the two countries.

The money will be used to evaluate the structure of China's aviation market, study the demands of its regional aviation market, train senior professionals, and develop a bigger air traffic flow management system.

Both sides said the pacts demonstrated the good cooperative relationship in the civil aviation sector between the two countries.

"By providing more and cheaper shipping choices to China, this agreement will make it easier for US companies to tap into China's enormous market," Peters said.

However Chinese carriers may not benefit as much as their US counterparts. One source said China's three largest airlines were all losing money in the passenger and cargo sector between the two countries, and the pact would add pressure.

But Yang said earlier the new aviation pact was an opportunity for carriers of both countries, and the US should make it easier for Chinese citizens and tourist groups to get visas, in order to promote balanced development.

Xinhua and agencies contributed to the story

© 2007 China Daily: www.chinadaily.com.cn

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