The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on China to open its airspace in an effort to reduce flight delays.
Speaking at the Beijing International Forum on Civil Aviation Safety, IATA’s director-general, Tony Tyler commended China’s efforts to expand its aviation infrastructure, but said more must be done in terms of airspace optimisation.
“It is clear that China is fully dedicated to supporting its overall development with a strong air transport industry,” said Tyler. “By 2034, China will be the world’s largest passenger market, with one in five passengers travelling to, from or within China.
“Adopting global best practices to improve safety and optimise airspace capacity will support the successful development of Chinese aviation,” he added.
Nearly 70,000 flights operate in mainland China every week – about 10% of the global total. But the rapid growth of the sector is increasingly leading to flight delays, which Tyler called “a major issue for airlines and their passengers”.
He went on to offer a series of suggestions on how to solve this problem, including allowing international flights to use domestic air routes, simplify procedures for re-routing requests, and the flexible use of airspace by civil aircraft when it is not being used by the military. The closure of much of Chinese airspace for military purposes is one of the key factors leading to congestion in China’s skies.
“Much progress has been made to improve the efficiency of China’s air traffic management. I appreciate the tremendous challenge just to keep pace with annual growth of 8% or greater. The impressive achievements to date give us confidence that even more improvements are possible,” Tyler concluded.