Air services company to form 1b yuan venture with Air China Jardine Aviation Services is to set up a one billion yuan 15-year joint venture with Air China to provide ground-handling services at Beijing airport, according to sources. The air services firm, which accounts for 25 per cent of ground-handling services at Chek Lap Kok, would become the first Hong Kong company to tap into the lucrative business in the mainland. Ground handling at mainland airports is currently operated by either the airport operators or the airlines. Beijing Capital Airport, for example, has two providers - Air China Ground Service Department and Beijing Airport Ground Service, which control the market 65 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively. Beijing Capital Airport handled 342,000 flights last year, surpassing Hong Kong's 263,000 movements over the same period. Air traffic in Beijing was up 12 per cent from the previous year. The number of passengers using Beijing airport last year was 41 million, an increase of 17 per cent. 'This trend by mainland airport operators to desert ground-handling services is providing level ground for the players,' said an industry source, who added that the role of airports should be confined to landlord and administrator. According to the sources, Jardine Aviation and Air China's application for a joint venture had been cleared by the General Administration for Civil Aviation of China but was awaiting approval from the National Development and Reform Commission. Jardine Aviation is fighting to get an equity stake in the joint venture of as much as 49 per cent. An Air China spokeswoman said there was already a strong co-operative relationship between the two companies, given that Jardine Aviation was providing ground-handling services for Air China in Hong Kong. Jardine has been involved in Hong Kong aviation since 1946 when it began providing sales agency and customised ground-handling services to airline customers. Jardine Aviation is a joint venture between Jardine Matheson Group and China National Aviation Corp, formed in 1988. Ground-handling services include passenger services - such as check-in, baggage services and ticketing services - as well as flight operations and cargo control.