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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

China clips Air China's wings after descent scare

(Reuters) - China's aviation regulator will reduce Air China's Boeing 737 flights by 10 percent and cancel licenses of the pilot and co-pilot involved in an emergency descent last week, in a move analysts say could push the airline to cut some routes.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will also launch a safety crackdown on the Chinese flag carrier for three months and fine the airline 50,000 yuan ($7,460), China Central Television (CCTV) said on its WeChat account.

The cuts to the carrier's 737 flights amount to 5,400 hours a month, it said. The CAAC also suspended the licenses of other staff involved in the emergency incident that was linked to a co-pilot smoking in the cockpit, CCTV added.

The airline and the CAAC did not respond to Reuters' requests for comment on Wednesday.

Air China shares fell as much as 1.4 percent in Hong Kong in response to the safety crackdown, before recovering slightly, against a flat Hang Seng index. The stock is down nearly 40 percent in Shanghai so far this year, amid a falling yuan and higher oil prices.

BOCOM International analyst Geoffrey Cheng said the crackdown would likely have an impact on Air China's flight schedules, especially as it enters peak travel season, but could also prompt the airline to cut poorly performing routes.

"It could have pros and cons," he said.

A Chinese aviation professor, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not permitted to speak to media, said the cuts appeared to only apply to Boeing 737 planes stationed at Air China's Beijing headquarters.

"For a big company like Air China they can move some 737s to their companies in southwest China or Zhejiang ... which could lessen Air China's losses," he said.

Air China has several branch offices in places such as Inner Mongolia and Shanghai as well as number of subsidiary airlines.

It operated 269 Boeing 737s out of its 655-strong fleet at the end of December, according to its full-year report issued in March. It has 311 Airbus 320 and 321 jets.


Chinese airlines have a good safety record in general, but passengers have, on occasion, accused pilots of smoking during flights. Few such incidents have been confirmed, however.

In the incident involving Air China's Boeing 737, the plane was flying to the Chinese city of Dalian from Hong Kong on July 10 when it dropped to 10,000 feet (3,048 m), with oxygen masks deployed, before climbing again.

Preliminary investigation by the regulator showed the co-pilot was smoking an e-cigarette and as smoke diffused into the passenger cabin, relevant air conditioning components were wrongly shut off, resulting in insufficient oxygen.

The CAAC often punishes airlines or aviation staff if it finds them guilty of violations.

Last year, CAAC fined Gulf airline Emirates [EMIRA.UL] 29,000 yuan for two safety violations in Chinese airspace and barred it from expanding its operations in China for six months.

In 2015, the regulator ordered Beijing-based Okay Airways to cut its flights by 20 percent and fined it 500,000 yuan for overworking its pilots.

Source: Reuters; Reporting by Brenda Goh and Beijing Monitoring Desk; Editing by Stephen Coates and Himani Sarkar

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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Airbus near deal to sell A350s to Taiwan's StarLux: sources

(Reuters) - Airbus is close to a deal to sell A350 long-haul jets to Taiwanese start-up StarLux Airlines, people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

The planned airline has selected the Airbus A320neo family to start medium-haul operations, and was reported earlier this year to be looking at 14 larger wide-body Airbus or Boeing jets.

Airbus, which is expected to unveil several orders at this week's Farnborough Airshow, declined to comment.

The airline, founded with the aim of challenging Asian network carriers by former EVA Airways chairman Chang Kuo-wei, was not available for comment.

If confirmed, a deal for 14 A350s would be worth about $4 billion at list prices.

Source: Reuters; Reporting by Tim Hepher, Editing by Eric M. Johnson  

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Monday, July 16, 2018

Xixi National Wetland Park in Hangzhou

Located at the western part of Hangzhou, Xixi National Wetland Park is the first and only national wetland park in China. It covers an area of about 1,150 hectares, encompassing urban, farming as well as cultural wetlands. Originating in the Han Dynasty, Xixi developed rapidly in the Tang and Song dynasties and reached its peak during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Though its prosperity declined in the Republic of China perio d, Xixi has regained its popularity in recent years.

Xixi is famous for its splendid natural scenery. About 70 percent of the park is covered by streams, ponds, lakes and swamps, with six long rivers forming a tangled network. Thus Xixi is called "the Kidney of Hangzhou". Here, you can either raft slowly in the lakes or fish leisurely by the ponds. Visitors are free to choose their own way of relaxing.


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