China must improve aviation infrastructure, says IATA

24 May 2012

China will need to continue investing in capacity infrastructure in order to develop its aviation industry to global standards, said Tony Tyler, director general and chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (IATA). 

At the China Civil Aviation Development Forum, Tyler noted that Chinese aviation is already the second largest in the world for domestic passengers and seventh for international. “But this is only the beginning,” he added. 

China will need to prioritise infrastructure development to keep up with the exponential growth of passengers and traffic. One major point Tyler highlighted is managing shared airspace with the military in a way that offers commercial carriers more flexibility, since limited airspace will only lead to delays and passenger frustration. “The more flexibility we have in how we use and share airspace with the military as well as between domestic and international flights, the better will be able to manage growth and meet passenger expectations,” said Tyler.

China has begun to reform its airspace control to allow more access for general aviation flights, such as opening up low-altitude airspace.

Another key factor China will need to focus on is enhancing and expanding Beijing Capital International Airport, which is now the world’s second busiest in passenger numbers after Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Last year, Capital Airport passenger traffic hit 78 million, up by 6.4 per cent. Earlier this year, Chinese authorities announced plans to build a second airport in Beijing to relieve congestion at Capital Airport (see story here). For this to work well, explained Tyler, “a transparent and clear system for allocating operations between the two airports will be required, in consultation with the airlines.”

Another area for improvement is Chinese aviation’s safety standards. China needs to continue to meet global standards in order to enable “airlines to connect our planet safely and efficiently,” said Tyler. Fortunately, China is on the right track; according to IATA, there have been no hull losses in the past few years.

Alisha Haridasani

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