China eases restrictions on private aircraft travel


BEIJING, Nov 21 (Reuters) - China has simplified flightapproval procedures for private aircraft in a move that may leadto the full opening of its under-developed general aviationmarket.

The move may provide marketing opportunities for companiessuch as Cessna and Bombardier Inc who havebeen eager to sell their pricy private jets in the world'slargest economy.

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

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

"It's good now that they've eased the control all over thecountry, not just in those pilot cities. But the market forgeneral aviation is still in the initial stage and it's hard tosay how fast it could grow," said Jefferies Hong Kong analystLiu Boyong. "We don't have enough airports for small jets."

The more immediate beneficiaries are general aviationservice providers, such as Citic Offshore Helicopter Co Ltd , as the new rules would cut back the paper work forflight approval and improve their operating efficiency, industryobservers say.

Citic Offshore Helicopter jumped to its daily trading limitshortly after market opened on Thursday. Company executivescould not be reached for comments immediately.

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

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