China will put a tight leash on the approval of new airlines amidst concern that the industry is growing at an alarmingly fast rate.
The General Administration of Civil Aviation of China said that in recent years, China’s aviation industry has developed rapidly, maintaining an average annual growth rate in excess of 16 per cent.
An official statement said that flights will be cut at Beijing airport and safety checks will be raised.
The regulator has also ordered an immediate cut in the flight schedules of all major Chinese airlines operating in Beijing´s Capital Airport as it undergoes major construction and expansion in preparation for the 2008 Olympics.
This order will affect the three major airliners: China Southern Airlines, Air China and China Eastern Airlines.
In addition, no applications for new airlines will be allowed before 2010 with tight controls imposed on the airlines already in operation. A few exceptions will be granted but they will be limited to freight airlines or airlines that mainly use foreign pilots and agree to operate mostly at night times.
Other conditions include flying on Chinese-made aircrafts or across China’s less developed areas, mainly the west and north-east regions.
Billions of dollars have already been spent to maintain and upgrade old airports as well as building new airports but the frequent interruptions make it hard for the infrastructure to keep up with the growth.
"As the regulator, we have clearly noted that along with this, development problems of lack of technical personnel, airspace and airport ability are getting daily more pronounced.
"To guarantee safety and ensure the good, quick, healthy and well-ordered development of the industry, the civil aviation department has decided to control the number of flights, permission for market entry and rate of growth," the statement said.