UK: Asia-Pacific Aerospace Briefing News from Around the Region

China

Unmanned Lunar Expedition announced

China has commenced construction of the rocket and satellite for its first lunar expedition. It has also started testing the launch facility and ground application systems. China is scheduled to send its first satellite to the moon in April 2007 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern Sichuan Province, in a oneyear lunar mission dubbed : Chang’e Project. 

Hong Kong

New infectious disease prevention Measures

Due to fears of avian flu, Hong Kong has implemented amendments to Part VIA of the Prevention and Spread of Infectious Diseases Regulation (Cap.141 sub. leg. B) which extend certain preventative measures for SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) under the existing Regulations to cover various strains of Influenza: Influenza A (H5), Influenza A (H7) and Influenza A (H9). These measures include:

  • empowering health officers with the authority to issue a direction preventing a person leaving Hong Kong without written permission; if that person is suffering from influenza; has been exposed to the risk of infection by contact with a person suffering from influenza strains; or that person is a carrier of those strains. The health officer may attach whatever condition he considers appropriate to any permission to leave. Any person who knowingly contravenes such a direction or fails to comply with a condition attached to the direction commits an offence and will be liable to a fine of HK$5,000 (US$642) and to imprisonment for six months;
  • entitling any person authorised by the Director of Health to take the body temperature of any person arriving in or leaving Hong Kong and carrying out a medical examination on any person arriving in or leaving Hong Kong for the purpose of ascertaining whether that person is likely to be infected with the specified Influenza strains; and
  • giving police officers, health, immigration and other public officers authorised by the Director of Health power to stop and detain a person seeking to leave Hong Kong in contravention of a direction preventing departure without permission, or in contravention of any conditions attached to a permission to leave.

Takeover and expansion plans

HNA Group, the parent company of Hainan Airlines, is to purchase 70 per cent of CR Airways through Grand China Aviation Services, a Hong Kong incorporated company.

CR Airways has licences to operate to more than 25 mainland cities, but it has chosen to service only a minimum number of these destinations from Hong Kong with a fleet of Bombardier jets. However, the carrier has applied for a licence to operate B737s from Hong Kong, its home base, and signed a memorandum of understanding with Boeing to purchase 30 B737-800s and 10 B787s. The Chinese authorities recently approved an application by the HNA Group to list in Hong Kong, a step which it is expected to take early in 2006.

Oasis set to take off in Hong Kong in Q2 2006

In November 2005, the Air Transport Licensing Authority of Hong Kong approved Oasis Airlines’ application to commence operations. Oasis is Hong Kong’s first budget, long-haul passenger airline. Expected to commence services in June 2006, Oasis is set to offer non-stop flights to London (Gatwick or Stansted), Milan, Berlin, Cologne/Bonn, Oakland and Chicago.

Macau

New Low Cost Carrier

A budget airline, Macau Asia Express, has been established with the aim of carrying more passengers between Macau and other East Asian destinations. The carrier is a joint venture between Air Macau, China National Aviation Co (CNAC) and Shun Tak Holdings Ltd. Air Macau will own 51 per cent of the new joint venture, with the other 49 per cent taken by ST-CNAC, itself a joint venture between CNAC and Shun Tak. It will initially focus on markets in Macau and the Pearl River Delta and is expected to make its first commercial flight by the end of this year.

New aircraft order announced

Meanwhile, Viva Macau, the first discount airline in the former Portuguese colony, has announced an order for Boeing aircraft worth US$1.9 billion (HK$14.8 billion). The carrier plans to commence operations to Asian destinations in June 2006.

Singapore

Expanded pact with China

On 30 November 2005, Singapore and China signed an expanded air services pact that allows airlines of both countries to operate passenger and all-cargo services between China and Singapore with no restrictions on capacity, routing or aircraft type.

Budget terminal nearing completion

Heralding further expansion at Singapore’s Changi airport, the major hub for South East Asian aviation, the airport is nearing completion of the construction of its "Budget Terminal", a customised terminal for low-cost carriers (LCCs).

Completion of the 25,000-square metre single level terminal will be a significant moment for Changi Airport, with LCCs now accounting for approximately 10 per cent of the airport’s total passenger flights and will, based on current trends, be a high-growth segment of the civil aviation sector in the Asia-Pacific region in the coming years. When the Budget Terminal opens for operations on 26 March 2006, Singapore will be ready to meet the needs and commercial considerations of LCC airlines by providing low-cost infrastructure and facilities. The Budget Terminal will initially be able to handle about 2.7 million passengers per annum. There is scope to allow future expansion to accommodate up to 5 million passengers per annum.

A recent newcomer to Changi is Swissport International, which has secured the inaugural baggage and ground-handling services for Tiger Airways, which will be the first LCC to operate from the terminal. More LCCs are likely to follow, where the key consideration has been to keep operating costs low in order to meet the needs and operating models of LCCs.

Japan

Safety audits imposed on local airlines

Following a spate of safety-related incidents, the Japanese government has decided to conduct safety audits of airline holding companies and investment funds in April of this year. The Construction and Transport Ministry is concerned that these companies and investment houses may be prejudicing safety measures in favour of short-term profits. The Ministry will question companies on such issues as to whether executives are actively involved in drawing up and implementing safety measures, and whether they have set guidelines to deal with emergencies. Executives of holding companies and representatives of investment funds, including those who have a stake of more than 33 per cent in a transport firm, will also be required to attend safety seminars. In a related development, the country’s transport ministry is drafting an amendment to the Civil Aviation Law that requires airline operators to report minor problems such as engine component trouble. The revision, planned to be presented to the Diet in the autumn, is aimed at establishing measures to prevent accidents at an early point by collecting information on various technical problems and analysing their causes.

Vietnam

New framework agreement

An aviation transport agreement between Vietnam and Israel was signed in Hanoi on 25 January 2006, which creates a legal and technical framework for the establishment of direct flights between Vietnam and Israel in the near future.

Travel agent crackdown

The Vietnam Administration of Tourism has handed down administrative sanctions to 20 tourism companies for violations of international travel business regulations. The offences include operating illegal international travel businesses and using foreigners as tourist guides.

Legislation review

The Government of Vietnam has announced that the Civil Aviation Law needs to be revised as it no longer meets the requirements of the aviation sector and conflicts with the Civil Code, the Labour Code, the Enterprise Law and the Commerce Law and the Law on Insurance Business. The revised draft law is to focus on amendments to regulations on the hiring of professional aircrew, the creation of in-flight offences, improvements in security, the detention and arrest of aircraft, regulations on the supply of services at airports, airspace usage and compensation for damages.

India

Airline takeover

It was recently announced that Jet Airways had acquired its local domestic rival, Air Sahara in a deal reputedly worth US$500 million. The takeover, subject to Indian regulatory approval, will give Jet Airways more than half of India’s domestic market and add more overseas destinations to its route network.

Indonesia

Government ban on LCC flights remains

The Indonesian Ministry of Transport has again indicated that it will maintain its bar on foreign low-cost carrier’s (LCCs) from flying into its major cities (Jakarta, Denpasar, Medan, Surabaya, Semarang, Bandung and Yogyakarta) though they are welcome to establish services to secondary destinations subject to bilateral agreements. There are 23 international airports, designated as secondary destinations in the archipelago. Indonesia’s decision has been widely seen as an effort by the Government to protect the national flag carrier from the strong competition posed by foreign LCCs.

Too old to fly

The Indonesian government has banned the registration of commercial jet aircraft aged more than 20 years in a bid to improve aviation safety. The Transport Minister signed a decree limiting the operational age of passenger and cargo jets in the country to 20 years, or 50,000 landings and take offs. The decree applies to newly-registered aircraft. Currently 30 year old aircraft or aircraft with no greater than 70,000 landings and take offs can be used. 

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