Blue skies ahead for new flock of com­muter lines

Op­er­a­tors say fly­ing to re­mote lo­ca­tions will be as easy as hail­ing a cab, re­port­sWangWen in Zhuhai.

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS -

Get­ting to the re­motest parts of China has tra­di­tion­ally meant long drives. Some des­ti­na­tions are so iso­lated and in such dif­fi­cult ter­rain that even road trans­porta­tion is not fea­si­ble. Now, a group of tiny new air­lines plan to op­er­ate com­muter flights to th­ese far-flung des­ti­na­tions.

Com­muter avi­a­tion, which orig­i­nated in the United States, is a type of gen­eral avi­a­tion that uses small air­craft (less than 30 seats) in re­mote re­gions.

Com­muter air­lines usu­ally op­er­ate reg­u­lar or char­ter ser­vices be­tween air­ports that are less than 400 km apart.

Sparkle Roll Air­lines, a sub­sidiary of Sparkle Roll Group Ltd, aHongKong-listed lux­ury items distrib­u­tor, hopes to be the first­com­muter air­line in China. Its gen­eral avi­a­tion unit is ex­pected to get an op­er­at­ing li­cense by the end ofNovem­ber.

“We will start our business be­fore Christ­mas. Some pas­sen­gers are al­ready show­ing an in­ter­est in our ser­vices,” said Chair­man Ji Xingzhuo.

The car­rier took de­liv­ery of its first two P180 Avanti II air­craft from Italy-based Pi­ag­gio Aero­space SpA in Septem­ber. The planes are cur­rently on show at the 10th China In­ter­na­tional Avi­a­tion and Aero­space Ex­hi­bi­tion in Zhuhai, Guang­dong prov­ince, which closes on Sun­day.

Sparkle Roll has or­dered 20 air­craft in all, in­clud­ing Chal­lenger planes built by Bom­bardier Inc of Canada, for its com­muter ser­vices. More than 10 air­craft could be de­liv­ered and in ser­vice by the end of next year.

Ji said the Pi­ag­gio’s eight­seat P180 Avan­tiII, which is known as “Fer­rari in the Air” is ideal for com­muter avi­a­tion in China. With a range of 3,000 km, it can cover most of the coun­try, but its op­er­at­ing cost is only about 20,000 yuan ($3,260) per hour, Ji said.

The low cost means that fares can be rel­a­tively cheap, he said. Sparkle Roll will price seats at 1,500 to 3,000 yuan per hour, which is about the same as first- or business-class tick­ets on reg­u­lar flights.

Tra­di­tion­ally, business jet op­er­a­tors sell en­tire flights, which have to be booked by one client. But Sparkle Roll will sell tick­ets by the seat.

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