China and Germany in talks to increase bilateral flights

BEIJING: China will start bilateral aviation talks with Germany this week, which might significantly increase the number of passenger flights by each side, an industry source said.  

“A delegation of Chinese aviation officials and airline executives will head for Germany this week,” the source said. 

“Both parties are highly optimistic about further boosting bilateral air services on rising passenger traffic following the recent opening-up of the EU to mainland tour groups.” 

China and the EU signed a tourism memorandum last December, greatly simplifying the visa procedures for Chinese tour groups. The first batch of mainland travellers already left for the eurozone earlier this month. 

Currently, Deutsche Lufthansa AG and mainland flag carrier Air China are the only airlines allowed to service the China-Germany market, with the maximum passenger services by each side capped at 28 per week. 

Lufthansa now flies daily from Frankfurt to Beijing and Shanghai. It also flies daily between Shanghai and Munich and three times per week between Beijing and Munich. 

Its code-sharing partner Air China operates scheduled Beijing-Frankfurt services and thrice-weekly flights between Beijing and Munich. 

In April, Lufthansa found a new code-sharing partner in China – regional carrier Shanghai Airlines Co Ltd – which, earlier in the year, had received official approval to fly to Germany. 

Industry sources said that the new China-Germany air service pact, hopefully to be announced soon, would eventually open up the bilateral market further, but the two sides have yet to iron out some differences on the timetable. 

“The Germans are pushing for unlimited flights immediately, while the Chinese side has been insisting on a gradual opening-up,” a source said. 

China's aviation market remains heavily regulated, even though, the government has been speeding up with air service liberalization lately. – AFX-Asia

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