China’s dreams of developing short-haul and general aviation passenger transportation ambitions are becoming reality in the far north and west of the country.
Paying passengers can now take a seat on scheduled light aircraft flights in China’s far north and western areas. This comes in the wake of the Chinese government’s current push on general aviation development, and the targeting of four particular regions with more favorable regulations.
However, the airfares are heavily discounted in order to ensure these flights won’t be going with empty seats. Perhaps governments are confident that once the traveling public becomes accustomed to trading buses for airplanes, they will be willing to pay realistic fares for the convenience.
The Inner Mongolia General Aviation Company, claiming to be the first Part 135 approved GA operator in the country, on March 13 launched a four times per week Cessna 208 service between the industrial city of Baotou and Urad Middle Banner. The 50-minute flight provides an alternative to a three-hour bus ride, and unlimited rides could be purchased for USD72 a month.
Now the same company is also offering Cessna 208 services between the regional capital of Hohhot and Ordos (home of the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan and one of China’s “ghost cities”) and between Hailar (which boasts an international airport) and the county-level cities of Genhe and Manzhouli.
Flying at a somewhat higher speed, the Ordos General Aviation Company, also in March, commenced flights between Baotou and Alxa Left Banner using Embraer Phenom 300 equipment. Aimed at commuters and business people, the one-hour flight saves more than six hours of driving.
Moving from Inner Mongolia to the Xinjiang region of the far north-west, a new short-haul route between Fuyun (in the Altay Prefecture) and the breathtakingly picturesque Kanas Lake is clearly aimed at the tourism market. The route is operated by Xinjiang General Aviation using the Chinese-made Harbin Y-12 twin-turboprop.