Commercial airports in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province signed an agreement on Dec 22 to coordinate their operations and development.
The agreement aims to enable the formation of an integrated air transport sector that will be rapid, efficient, safe and cost-effective, according to a statement released at the signing ceremony in Beijing.
The statement laid out the development goals for the three signatories－Beijing Capital International Airport Co, Tianjin Binhai International Airport and Hebei Airport Management Holding Co－saying that Beijing should optimize its resources to serve more international flights, while airports in Tianjin and Hebei can help handle more domestic service.
The Tianjin airport will foster cargo transport, and the Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport, the largest in Hebei, will strive to promote air courier delivery services and low-cost airlines, according to the statement.
Shi Boli, general manager of Beijing Capital, said less than 30 percent of flights the airport handles each year are international, far less than those of foreign airports its size.
“Under the agreement, some domestic flights we are handling now will be moved to airports in Tianjin and Hebei, substantially reducing our heavy burden and enabling us to focus on international service,” Shi said.
The Beijing airport served 83.7 million passengers in 2013 and was listed as the second-busiest airport in the world last year by passenger volume, behind Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the United States, according to Airports Council International.
The move will also push forward the central government’s effort to integrate the development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, said Zhou Laizhen, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
The administration wrote a set of guidelines earlier this month encouraging Chinese airlines to redirect some of their domestic flights that now use Beijing to Tianjin and Hebei airports.
It said the administration endorses Hebei Airport Management Holding Co’s merger plan with the Capital Airports Holding Co, which owns Beijing and Tianjin international airports. The deal will place almost all civil airports in northern China under the control of Capital Airports, enabling unified management and operations.
The administration urged the signing parties to support the construction of a new airport in Beijing and to ensure that it becomes operational in 2019.
In addition, a general aviation airport will be built outside Beijing to handle general aviation flights that presently use Beijing Capital International Airport.
The administration also pledged to give more favorable policies and funds to cities in Hebei to facilitate their building or expansion of civil airports.