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Civil Aviation to Integrate in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region

05-20 00:00 《财经》杂志 《财经》杂志

  By staff reporter Weng Shiyou

  Would passengers accustomed to flying in and out of Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) be willing to travel to airports in nearby Tianjin or Shijiazhuang? A draft implementation plan for the joint development of civil aviation transport among Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei is looking to answer this very question and turn the possibility of diverting passenger traffic from BCIA into reality.

  The implementation of this plan will undoubtedly more closely integrate the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei regions in transport and logistics.

  BCIA is China’s busiest domestic airport. Official data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) show that in 2013, out of 193 civil airports, BCIA had the nation’s highest passenger throughput at 83.7124 million people, the second highest cargo throughput at 1.8437 million tons, and the highest amount of departures at 567,800 departing flights. The airport is now starting to buckle under the immense transport pressure. Due to flight time limitations, each day BCIA has 400 flight applications that cannot be met.

  At the same time, BCIA’s scale advantages have led to a noticeable siphoning effect with nearby airports in Tianjin and Shijiazhuang, depressing passenger and cargo throughput at the two major airports. As Tianjin Binhai International Airport (TBIA) and BCIA share the same airspace, and TBIA must give priority to BCIA flights, TBIA’s growth has been suppressed to a certain degree.

  Under the draft plan, civil aviation authorities should systematic ally guide the intention to divert flight traffic from BCIA to TBIA and Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport (SZIA); moreover, authorities should also adjust the mix of existing flights and flight routes to and from BCIA by giving priority to international routes, optimizing the use of BCIA’s new and existing time slots, and turning down cargo flights and less efficient flights and routes.

  Insiders say the flight route restructuring involves multiple interests and will depend on negotiations between the parties involved. It is reported that BCIA and TBIA have set up special teams responsible for specific matters.

  BCIA is still far from reaching its goal of becoming a “major international aviation hub.” For now, the airport is still direct navigation-based, with the proportion of transit passengers hovering at around 7 percent and international passenger throughput accounting for only 23 percent of the total. By comparison, passenger and cargo transit at rival South Korea's Incheon International Airport is several times higher than that of BCIA.

  To become a transit hub, in addition to supporting government customs policies and the optimization of operational processes at the airport, Civil Aviation University of China Professor Peng Yubing contends flight convergence issues between international flights and domestic and international flights must also be addressed, which require flight times to play their due role.

  In addition, whether the adjustment will touch upon long-standing problems in airspace management will largely determine the outcome of the three airports’ coordinated development.

  China’s airspace controls are organized and implemented uniformly by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force. A CAAC official previously revealed that only 20 percent of China's airspace is designated for civil use, whereas in countries like the United States and Japan, that figure is closer to 80 percent.

  Due to historical reasons and the need to “defend Beijing,” a number of military airports have been deployed in the regions of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei. After having to bypass no-fly zones, military training zones and other special airspace, planes taking off and landing from BCIA and TBIA only have a narrow corridor to fly within. With the sheer amount of flights departing and landing every day, air congestion is an inevitable result.

  To achieve the coordinated development of air transportation in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, it is necessary to fundamentally address the issue of lack of airspace for civil use and adjust the airspace management system, taking into account the interests of both military and civil aviation and allocating more airspace for civil use.

  Tianjin and Shijiazhuang’s recent explorations in integrating air and rail transport will also play a role in solving inequality issues among the three airports.

  Full article in Chinese:http://magazine.caijing.com.cn/2014-05-19/114191694.html

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