China is continuing to open up to more flights by foreign carriers with new liberal, bilateral air services agreements with Singapore and Malaysia.

Both new agreements were signed in December during a high-level visit to South-East Asia by the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

The Singapore agreement was the first to be signed and authorities in the city state say the new confidential memorandum of understanding (CMU) represents a significant further expansion of their air services agreement, the terms of which were last negotiated in February 2002. This deal allowed for a 75% increase in passenger capacity and a 100% increase in cargo services between the two countries.

"The new CMU allows capacity for passenger services to increase by about 75% and cargo capacity to be tripled by 2004," says Singapore's Ministry of Transport.

Six Chinese airlines now operate to Singapore - Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, China Southwest, China Yunnan and Xiamen Airlines. Singapore Airlines, regional subsidiary SilkAir and SIA Cargo in return operate to China, and together the nine airlines operate 121 weekly services between Singapore and seven cities in China.

Under the terms of a separate memorandum of understanding signed in Singapore, the two countries will explore the possibility of setting up a joint training centre in China.

Meanwhile, the new China-Malaysia air services accord increases airline operating rights by 50%, according to Malaysian authorities. China agreed to allow state-owned Malaysia Airlines (MAS) to operate to another 10 destinations in the country; five with immediate effect and another five from 2005.

MAS serves six Chinese destinations. Malaysian transport minister Ling Liong Sik says there are 48 weekly passenger flights between China and Malaysia and this will rise to 72 as a result of the new agreement, which also gives Chinese carriers additional operating rights.


Source: Airline Business