China to push forward on air cargo market liberalisation

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 September, 2014, 12:22pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 September, 2014, 2:22am

The mainland will push for further liberalisation of its air cargo market because it is vital to facilitating trade flows and expanding its economy, the aviation authority said.

"China, as the biggest exporting country in international trade, relies heavily on air cargo business … We are actually taking a proactive attitude towards air cargo liberalisation," said Han Jun, the director general of the international affairs department of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

"We will follow the international trend of liberalisation, particularly for cargo development," Han told industry leaders from around the world at the first Air Cargo Development Forum organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

International cargo traffic turnover accounted for nearly a third, or 21.07 billion tonne-kilometres, of mainland traffic turnover of 67.17 billion tkm last year.

China's international cargo business soared between 1980 and 2008 before it was hit by the financial crisis. It showed signs of recovery last year, when international traffic grew 8.3 per cent. Wang Zhiqing, a deputy administrator of CAAC, said China would seek to liberalise its cargo market in a "positive, gradual, moderate and secure manner".

"We will lower access requirements as appropriate and also encourage Chinese airlines to expand their international routes to more domestic points, and work with foreign operators to create international routes," Wang said.

According to Han, China has signed air service agreements with 115 countries and regions, of which 21 have introduced unlimited capacity entitlements for all cargo services.

"What is worth mentioning is the China-US air traffic agreement. After its amendment in 2004, it has for the first time introduced the concept of air cargo hub operators," Han said.

"Cargo hub operators in China are entitled to the seventh freedom traffic right," he said, pointing to the right to operate between two points with neither being the airline's home country. "This is the only such arrangement we have reached with another authority."

Glyn Hughes, the global head of cargo at the International Air Transport Association, said "air cargo is an enabler and facilitator of international trade" and that liberalisation would lead to lower costs and higher efficiency.