November 21, 2013 / 7:04 AM / in 4 years

China eases restrictions on private aircraft travel

BEIJING, Nov 21 (Reuters) - China has simplified flight approval procedures for private aircraft in a move that may lead to the full opening of its under-developed general aviation market.

The move may provide marketing opportunities for companies such as Cessna and Bombardier Inc who have been eager to sell their pricy private jets in the world’s largest economy.

Under the new rule, jointly issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the military, companies or individuals flying in a private jet or helicopter outside a no-fly zone within the country no longer need to submit their plans to the military. They only need the permission of CAAC.

The policy, effective Dec. 1, marks China’s latest step in easing its grip on air space since late 2010 when it opened up low-altitude space for commercial jets in select cities, industry observers say.

“It’s good now that they’ve eased the control all over the country, not just in those pilot cities. But the market for general aviation is still in the initial stage and it’s hard to say how fast it could grow,” said Jefferies Hong Kong analyst Liu Boyong. “We don’t have enough airports for small jets.”

The more immediate beneficiaries are general aviation service providers, such as Citic Offshore Helicopter Co Ltd , as the new rules would cut back the paper work for flight approval and improve their operating efficiency, industry observers say.

Citic Offshore Helicopter jumped to its daily trading limit shortly after market opened on Thursday. Company executives could not be reached for comments immediately.

By 2020, China’s fleet of general aviation aircraft is expected to rise to 10,000, up from 1,200 currently.

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