Posts Tagged ‘civil aviation’

Brexit Bulletin: The Bridge Gets Built

March 19, 2018


Image result for Brexit, photos

By Emma Ross-Thomas

  • Davis and Barnier meet in Brussels on transition deal
  • U.K. is trying to get a written commitment on transition

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It’s crunch week for businesses wanting to know the rules and trading regime they’ll be operating under just a year from now.

On Monday, Brexit Secretary David Davis and chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier meet in Brussels. A news conference has been penciled in for midday. Davis has avoided appearing alongside Barnier so far this year, so it could be a sign the two sides are on track to reach an agreement on a transition phase that will keep all the rules the same until the end of 2020 — or 21 months after exit day.

The U.K. is trying to secure a written promise from the EU about the transition agreement, Tim Ross reports. Businesses are cranking up the pressure to make the transition as solid — and useful — as possible. They are becoming increasingly aware that any agreement reached at the summit this week will be a political commitment — not legally binding until the final withdrawal agreement is signed early next year. Barnier has made the point repeatedly in recent weeks that there’s no transition without a final deal and that the transition agreement isn’t certain until the divorce deal is inked. With the Irish border issue still an intractable riddle, that’s a warning that businesses have to take seriously.

Davis and Barnier are to meet later today.
Photographer: Dario Pignatelli/Bloomberg

British negotiators are pushing for the EU to include an explicit statement in negotiating guidelines. They want the document to state that an agreement in principle has been reached on the terms of transition, according to a person familiar with the matter. The draft guidelines circulated earlier this month leave some blanks at the top to be updated just before the summit and the holding language is vaguer — it says the EU side “welcomes/notes the progress” on transition.

That kind of language wouldn’t go down well with businesses and might not be enough for them to put their contingency plans back in the drawer.

“Political agreement on transition alleviates some pressure on some companies, but it would be a mistake to think it solves the Brexit readiness problem,” said James Stewart, head of Brexit at KPMG. “Just as no lawyer would allow you to complete a major deal without a legally binding contract, so it would be equally reckless for businesses to scrap their contingency plans until they have a similar level of assurance.”

Brexit Latest

Unison Strained | National interests are starting to test the united front that the 27 remaining EU members have shown so far during the Brexit talks, according to three people with knowledge of the process, Ian Wishart reports. At issue is whether to add language on specific industries — and addressing the concerns of specific countries. At a meeting in Brussels this week, Spain, whose national airline Iberia is owned by the same company as British Airways, signaled it would like specific references to aviation, while Luxembourg wants more detail on financial services.

View From Berlin | German Chancellor Angela Merkel is still looking for clarity from the U.K., she said in her weekly podcast published on Saturday. “We will, for the first time, talk about what our vision for our future relation with the U.K. looks like,” Merkel said. “Of course, the U.K. also has to say what it wants.” May gave her detailed vision in a landmark speech on March 2, but EU officials have dismissed many of the proposals as unworkable.

Finance Is Fine | Royal Bank of Scotland Chairman Howard Davies said the finance industry is unlikely to be the one to make a longer transition period after Brexit necessary. “If you suddenly faced a cliff edge, you’d have to move people very quickly into another a city,” he said on Sky News. “But the issue would be finding apartments — it wouldn’t be building huge facilities.” Banks are well ahead of other companies when it comes to contingency measures, and RBS has plans for a subsidiary in Amsterdam.

Aviation Risk | The U.K.’s Civil Aviation Authority doesn’t have the capacity to take over the functions of the equivalent European regulator, and it would take five to 10 years even to begin that process, according to a parliamentary committee report. The chief executive of the U.K. authority told the panel that “it would be misleading to suggest that’s a viable option.” Any transition from one authority to another would lead to disruptions and risks to the industry, according to the report.

Freelancing Boris | Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it’s “claptrap” to say the European Court of Justice will continue to have some influence over the U.K. after it leaves the EU, contradicting Prime Minister Theresa May, who made it clear in her March 2 speech that the court will still have a role after the split.

Minority Report | Parliament’s cross-party Brexit Committee is so divided that the pro-Brexit faction refused to sign off on a report this weekend and issued its own minority report that attacked the stance taken by the chairman of the influential panel. The committee’s main paper called for the government to consider extending next year’s withdrawal deadline. Hardline Brexit campaigner Jacob Rees-Mogg, who is on the committee, said the proposal “is the prospectus for the vassal state” and sets out a “future not worthy of us as a country.”

On the Markets | Pound traders are cautiously awaiting signs of progress toward a transition deal. Even if those expectations are met, any gains in the currency may be short-lived, Charlotte Ryan reports.

And Finally…

London’s pain is Luxembourg’s gain. While London house prices fall, Luxembourg’s are rising so much that its red-light district looks like it will be a likely home for bankers escaping Brexit. As the Grand Duchy prepares to welcome financiers relocating from the U.K., a lack of housing has pushed the price of relatively modest family homes beyond the €1 million mark ($1.2 million), Stephanie Bodoni reports.

That has led to edgier areas being developed to keep up with demand. One luxurious project called “Soho” has sprung up around the Rue de Strasbourg, which is slowly shedding its reputation as a cut-throat, no-go-area populated by drug pushers and pimps.

The Luxembourg City skyline.
Photographer: Getty Images

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U.S. Says China “Pushing Around Smaller Nations” in the South China Sea

January 9, 2018

US State Department adviser says China is pushing around smaller states with rival claims and limiting navigation in international waters

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2018, 2:57pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2018, 5:14pm

South China Morning Post

The United States has accused China of “provocative militarisation” of disputed areas in the South China Sea and will continue sending vessels to the region to carry out freedom-of-navigation patrols, according to a top US adviser on Asia policy.

Brian Hook, a senior adviser to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, said on Tuesday that the issue of the South China Sea was raised at all diplomatic and security dialogues between China and the US.

Some analysts have suggested that the US administration’s attention towards the issue has been deflected by the North Korean nuclear weapons crisis.

Hook’s remarks came as China continues building work in the disputed waters, including installing high-frequency radar and other facilities that can be used for military purposes.

“China’s provocative militarisation of the South China Sea is one area where China is contesting international law. They are pushing around smaller states in ways that put a strain on the global system,” Hook said during a media telephone conference.

“We are going to back up freedom-of-navigation operations and let them know we will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.”

Chinese state-controlled media hailed Beijing’s progress in construction work on islands in the South China Sea last year, noting that the projects covered 290,000 square metres.

The Washington-based Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative said in December that China had built what appeared to be a high-frequency radar array at Fiery Cross Reef, part of the Spratly Islands chain in the disputed waters. Completed tunnels that could be used for ammunition storage were also spotted on Subi Reef in the same chain of islands.

China also plans to launch 10 more satellites from the southern island of Hainan over the next three years for around-the-clock monitoring of the South China Sea, a move analysts say consolidates Beijing’s control of the contested waters.

“We strongly believe China’s rise cannot come at the expense of the values and rule-based order. That order is the foundation of peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific and also around the world,” Hook said.

“When China’s behaviour is out of step with these values and these rules we will stand up and defend the rule of law.”

Beijing insists it has sovereignty over almost all the South China Sea but the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have claims to the waters.


 US President Donald Trump (right) pictured with Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis (centre) and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (left) during a meeting of his advisers at Camp David in Maryland earlier this month. Photo: AFP

China has repeatedly called for the US not to get involved in the disputes, saying it is not a claimant. Beijing also says US freedom-of-navigation patrols in the contested waters infringe on Chinese sovereignty.

Separately, Hook said Washington was opposed to Beijing’s expansion of civil aviation routes in the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing announced it had opened four air routes last week, without consulting the Taiwanese authorities.

It comes as Beijing presses ahead with a massive military modernisation programme, including building new aircraft carriers and stealth fighters to give it the ability to project its power far from its shores. The mainland has also carried out “island encirclement patrols” near Taiwan, which it considers a breakaway Chinese province.

“We oppose these kinds of unilateral actions,” Hook said. “We encourage the authorities in Beijing and Taipei to engage in constructive dialogue on issues related to civil aviation.”

Taiwan has strongly criticised the creation of the air flight paths, saying Beijing’s move threatens regional security.




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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Paris Air Show: Russia, China Working To End Boeing, Airbus Dominance in Commercial Aircraft

June 20, 2017


© POOL/AFP/File / by Djallal MALTI | China hopes its home-grown C919 passenger jet will give wings to its domestic aerospace industry

PARIS (AFP) – China’s C919 and Russia’s MC-21 may be absent from the tarmac at the Paris Air Show, but their makers don’t hide their ambition to nose into the biggest part of the civil aviation market — single-aisle medium-haul aircraft — which is dominated by Airbus and Boeing.”For decades there were just two families of competing aircraft in the single-aisle segement, the A320 and the 737″ built by Airbus and Boeing, said Stephane Albernhe, managing partner at Archery Consulting.

Both firms have been announcing business worth tens of billions of dollars for their mid-range bestsellers at the Paris Air Show, but they’re unlikely to keep the market for themselves for long.

“Things are beginning to change because the duopoly is being attacked by the Bombardier’s C Series, Comac’s C919 and Irkut’s MC-21.

While Bombardier’s C Series entered into commercial service last year, both the C919 and MC-21 only just made their maiden test flights last month and are years away from entering into service.

The C919, which made its first test flight on May 5, built by state-owned aerospace manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), represents nearly a decade of effort in a government-mandated drive to reduce the nation’s dependence on Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

Capable of carrying 168 passengers over a distance of 5,500 kilometres (3,400 miles), the C919 already has 600 orders.

The MC-21 also represents an effort by Russia to end reliance on foreign aircraft. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian airlines have shifted to Airbus and Boeing aircraft which are cheaper to operate.

Manufactured by the state-owned Irkut, the aircraft made its first flight on May 28 over Siberia. Capable of carrying between 132 and 211 passengers up to 6,000 kilometres, there have been 175 orders for the MC-21 according to Irkut.

The MC-21’s maiden flight comes six years after Russia’s short-haul Sukhoi Superjet aircraft came into service in 2011. But they have since suffered serious technical issues that have forced the plane’s grounding.

For Gilles Fournier, managing director of the Paris Air Show, “these planes are not yet mature enough to display” at the event. But, he added, “I think they will be in two years” at the next Paris Air Show.

“These new entrants have states which support them and they won’t stop there,” said Albernhe.

“They have started with single-aisle aircraft, but its a good wager that at least as far as the Chinese are concerned, the next model with be a long-haul aircraft.”

In fact, Beijing and Moscow announced last month they intend to work together this time a long-distance aircraft, which has been baptised C-929 by the Chinese.

Capable of carrying 280 passengers on flights up to 12,000 kilometres, the C-929 would take on the latest long-haul jets offered by Airbus and Boeing — the A350 and 787 Dreamliner.

The plane is to be developed by COMAC and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). Chinese media have said development could cost between $13 billion and $20 billion.

– Biggest aviation market –

So far the Chinese are proceeding slowly to acquire know-how, and relying on their vast home market, to avoid a commercial failure.

According to estimates by Airbus and Boeing, the Chinese market will need around 6,000 new aircraft over the next few decades, making it worth a trillion dollars.

“It will take time before Russian and Chinese manufacturers acquire the technical and industrial maturity of Airbus and Boeing,” cautioned Albernhe.

Until the C919 and MS-21 receive certification from US and European regulators the aircraft won’t be able to truly compete for business internationally.

COMAC still hasn’t received US certification for its ARJ-21 regional jet, which entered service with a Chinese airline in 2015 and remains limited to internal routes.

But the threat that China and Russia pose is taken seriously on both sides of the Atlantic.

“Never sell your competition short,” said Randy Tinseth, vice president for marketing at Boeing’s civil aviation unit.

“Ten years from now, 15 years from now, they will be the world largest aviation market,” he said. “That’s why they’re investing in these products — they have the biggest domestic market that puts them in a place no one else is.”

The same message can be heard from Airbus.

“If you ask me ‘are there any threats in the next five to ten years to Airbus or Boeing?’ Probably not,” said John Leahy, the chief operating officers for customers at Airbus’ commercial aircraft unit.

But “in 20 years I think they will be one of the three big manufacturers of aircrafts,” he added.

Business management consultancy AlixPartners also thinks it will take some time for the Chinese and Russians to really break into the market.

“Looking ahead, we don’t expect the commercial aircraft duopoly of Airbus and Boeing to be heavily threatened in the near future, it will probably take another generation of new aircraft,” said Eric Bernardini, who heads of aerospace and defence at AlixPartners

“However, an acquisition by the Chinese of Bombardier C Series would create a serious threat,” he noted on the company’s website.

The C Series has begun to make inroads in the global market, but Bombardier had to take on debt and was rescued by the Canadian provice of Quebec to finance building the aircraft, its first foray in the medium-range segement.

by Djallal MALTI

© SPUTNIK/AFP | Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in front of the new MC-21 medium-haul jet, which has made a successful test flight, during its roll-out ceremony last June



Developed: The single-aisle twin-engine jetliner has been designed to go head-to-head with Boeing's 737 and Airbus A320 in the lucrative aviation market

Developed: The single-aisle twin-engine jetliner has been designed to go head-to-head with Boeing’s 737 and Airbus A320 in the lucrative aviation market

Image result for C919, aircraft, photos

Chinese airlines and lessors have bought about 2,000 of these jets, the C919, and will likely buy thousands more, with Boeing forecasting that by 2035 China will spend $1 trillion on new airliners, including over 5,000 single-aisle planes, to satisfy its burgeoning demand for air travel.


China Gets a Stronger Hold on Taiwan’s Throat — Plus Why Donald Trump Is Right About China

October 7, 2016


By Ralph Jennings

The United Nations had just told Taiwan it couldn’t join this year’s general assembly of the agency that sets civil aviation rules. Then the diplomatically isolated Asian government found out the UN conference on climate change in November will let Taiwan attend only as an informal observer, led by a research institute delegation rather than a government minister. That’s a demotion from last year when the UN Climate Change Conference let Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Administration minister participate for the first time. Whatever Taiwan contributes this year is unofficial.

Everyone knows China did this – again.

Since Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was elected in January before taking office in May, the Communist leadership in Beijing has chiseled away at gains in international status that Taiwan made under the previous president in Taipei. Tsai takes a relatively guarded approach to China relations as Beijing wants to unify with Taiwan even though most people on her island tell opinion polls they don’t want that fate. China uses its 170-plus diplomatic alliances to keep Taiwan out of most UN agencies and forbids those countries from any establishing formal diplomatic ties. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, which has been self-ruled for seven decades.

A worker wearing a hard hat, facemask and protective clothing walks past a factory Feb. 17, 2016 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. (Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images)

Taiwan wants more participation in international agencies, regional blocs, treaties and trade agreements to help set rules for the world on things it cares about. Trade and transport are two points of concern. Taiwan seeks free-trade agreements to help its exporters, which is natural since exports drive the half-trillion-dollar Taiwanese economy. International exposure also reminds the outside of Taiwan’s de facto political autonomy.

The 2015 climate change conference in Paris, often dubbed COP21, yielded an agreement signed by 196 countries to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2°C (3.6°F) by 2100.

Pressure from China also barred Taiwan from joining the UN-backed International Civil Aviation Organization assembly as an observer in late September. China’s a UN member, Taiwan has just 22 diplomatic allies. China sees Taiwan as part of its territory, not a country entitled to formal membership in international bodies. Taiwan is proudly self-ruled and has pushed for a stronger role in the UN since the 1990s.

China probably let the EPA minister in last year because the climate was better between Beijing and Taipei. Taiwan’s president at the time Ma Ying-jeou had agreed in 2008 to talk with Chinese officials as two parts of “China,” just subject to different interpretations on what that geographic label means. Ma used those talks to sign 23 agreements with China, which also eased up on Taiwan’s pursuit of free trade deals with other countries and let it brush up against UN bodies.

“Beijing’s not happy with the current Taiwan government, hence one can infer why Taiwan officials can’t participate in this conference,” says Sean King, senior vice president with the consulting firm Park Strategies in New York. “With no official Taiwan government representation, it’s a definite net downgrade from last year.”

Taiwan’s foreign ministry does not acknowledge a status drop this year in its statement on the UN conference, though it notes that local NGOs failed to land permission to hold sideline events. “Taiwan’s normal participation shouldn’t be ruled out,” the statement says. The now former EPA Minister, Wei Kuo-yen, used last year’s UN event make the same plea. Taiwan had recently passed its Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction and Management Act to do its part in controlling carbon emissions.

The Industrial Technology Research Institute will head Taiwan’s delegation to COP22 this year.

The demotion is no one-off case. China has cut into the island’s international relations since April by asking that other countries extradite Taiwanese fraud suspects to Beijing, not Taipei, on the premise that they’re Chinese. China also formed diplomatic ties with Taiwan’s former ally Gambia in March, another slight to its international status.

The message from this year’s climate conference is “pretty obvious,” says Nathan Liu, international affairs and diplomacy professor at Ming Chuan University in Taiwan. “Things have developed from a stalemate to something like confrontation,” Liu says. “Tension across the Taiwan Strait will get even worse. The situation right now is pretty awkward.”



Why Trump Is Right About China

By Bryan Rich, Contributor
September 27, 2016

The debate last night was entertaining. It’s sad to see how the media manipulates facts and cherry picks quotes to fit their narrative. But that’s what they do and it ultimately shapes views for voters, unfortunately.

Today, I want to focus on China and Trump’s comments on China’s currency manipulation. Everyone knows the U.S. has lost jobs to China. Everyone knows China has become the world’s manufacturer. But not everyone knows how they did it.

Is it just because the labor is so cheap? Or is there more to it?

There’s more to it. A lot more.

China’s biggest and most effective tool is and always has been its currency. China ascended to the second largest economy in the world over the past two decades by massively devaluing its currency, and then pegging it at ultra-cheap levels.

Take a look at this chart …

sept 27 usdcny

In this chart, the rising line represents a weaker Chinese yuan and a stronger U.S. dollar. You can see from the early 1980s to the mid-1990s, the value of the yuan declined dramatically, an 82% decline against the dollar. China trashed its currency for economic advantage—and it worked, big time. And it worked because the rest of the world stood by and let it happen.

For the next decade, the Chinese pegged its currency against the dollar at 8.29 yuan per dollar (a dollar buys 8.29 yuan).

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With the massive devaluation of the 1980s into the early 1990s, and then the peg through 2005, the Chinese economy exploded in size. It enabled China to corner the world’s export market, and suck jobs and foreign currency out of the developed world. This is precisely what Donald Trump is alluding to when he says “China is stealing from us.”

China’s economy went from $350 billion to $3.5 trillion through 2005, making it the third largest economy in the world.

sept 27 china gdp

This next chart is U.S. GDP during the same period. You can see the incredible ground gained by the Chinese on the U.S. through this period of mass currency manipulation.

sept 27 us gdp

And because they’ve undercut the world on price, they’ve become the world’s Wal-Mart (sellers to everyone) and have accumulated a mountain for foreign currency as a result. China is the holder of the largest foreign currency reserves in the world, at more than $3 trillion dollars (mostly U.S. dollars). What do they do with those dollars? They buy U.S. Treasurys, keeping rates low, so that U.S. consumers can borrow cheap and buy more of their goods—adding to their mountain of currency reserves, adding to their wealth and depleting the U.S. of wealth (and the cycle continues).

The U.S. woke up in 2005, and started threatening tariffs against Chinese goods unless it abandoned its cheap currency policies. China finally conceded (sort of). It agreed to abandon the peg to the dollar, and to start appreciating its currency.

Donald Trump, 2016 Republican presidential nominee, speaks during the first U.S. presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, U.S., on Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

It allowed the currency to strengthen by about 4.5% a year from 2005 through 2013. That might sound good, but that was a drop in the bucket compared to the double digit pace the Chinese economy was growing at through most of that period. Still, the U.S. passively threatened along the way, but allowed it to continue.

With that, the Chinese economy has ascended to the second largest economy in the world now—on pace to the biggest soon (though it still has just an eighth of the per capita GDP as the U.S.). But China’s currency is a bigger threat, at this stage, than just the emergence of China as an economic power. The G-20 (the group of the world’s top 20 economies) has had China’s weak currency policy at the top of its list of concerns for a reason.

The current global imbalances are the underlying cause of the global financial crisis, and China’s currency is at the heart of it.

And without a more fairly valued yuan, repairing those imbalances—those lopsided economies too dependent upon either exports or imports—isn’t going to happen. It’s a recipe for more cycles ofbooms and busts … and with greater frequency.

Are big tariffs the answer? Historically that’s a recipe for disaster, economically and geopolitically.

What’s the solution? I’ve thought that the Bank of Japan will ultimately crush the value of the yen, as the answer to Japan’s multi-decade economic malaise and as an answer to the stagnant global economic recovery. It’s an answer for everyone, except China. A much weaker yen could crush the China threat, by displacing China as the world’s exporter.

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Blast blows hole in commercial plane over Somalia; 1 passenger sucked out and dies

February 3, 2016

Updated 7:07 AM ET, Wed February 3, 2016

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN)An explosion rocked a commercial plane after it set off above East Africa on Tuesday, injuring two people before the pilot landed safely, a passenger said.

Somali authorities later discovered a body near Mogadishu they believe fell from the Daallo Airlines plane.

Daallo Airlines A321 Lands With Hole In Fuselage

Late Tuesday night, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that Somali authorities confirmed one passenger had been blown or ejected out of the hole created by the explosion. Somalia’s National News Agency reported that one passenger died after falling from the plane.

Pictures from the ground showed a hole in one side of the airliner, just above its wing and slightly smaller than one of its doors.

Initial tests of the damage on Flight D3159 came back positive for explosive residue, a source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.

A spokesman for Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke didn’t immediately indicate a bomb had gone off mid-flight, echoing a Daallo Airlines worker in saying “the incident is under investigation.”

Oxygen masks dangle from the plane's ceiling after Tuesday's explosion.

“There is a lot of conflicting information,” said the Prime Minister’s spokesman, Abdisalam Aato.

Daallo CEO Mohammed Ibrahim Yassin told that it was too early to say what caused the explosion.

“Nothing is certain,” he said. He acknowledged that some people believed there was a bomb. “The Civil Aviation (Authority) thinks differently.”

An airport official estimated the Daallo plane was between 12,000 and 14,000 feet high when the blast occurred not long after it took off from Mogadishu International Airport.

The pilot then flew the Airbus A321-111, which had originated in Jeddah on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast, back to the Somali capital.

If this was a bomb, no group immediately took responsibility.

Al-Shabaab has been behind some of the worst violence in recent years in and around Somalia. Some of it targeted tourists, such as last month’s deadly attack on a beachside restaurant-hotel complex in Mogadishu. Young people also have been targets, as shown in the massacre at Kenya’s Garissa University College. And the general public hasn’t escaped the group’s violence, as evidenced in a 2013 assault on an upscale mall in Nairobi.

Yet this Islamist extremist group has recently gotten competition from ISIS, with a high-ranking Al-Shabaab member and spiritual leader pledging allegiance to the rival group last fall.

Flights in and out of Mogadishu International Airport were suspended briefly Tuesday because of the Daallo Airlines incident.

That airport is home to offices of the United Nations, African Union and many diplomatic missions, including those of the United States and European Union.

Daallo Airlines is based in the United Arab Emirates and has flights to Djibouti, Kenya, Saudi Arabia and Somalia.

Philippines plans tracking system for civilian flights in South China Sea

January 19, 2016


The Philippines plans to install a $1-million satellite-based system to track commercial flights over the disputed South China Sea, after China landed its first test flights this month on a reef it built on the Spratly islands.

China’s increasing military presence in the Spratlys has stirred fears it could lead to an air defense zone the country controls, which would escalate tension with other claimants, and the United States, in one of the world’s most volatile areas.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, believed to have huge oil and gas deposits, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims in the sea, through which about $5 trillion in trade passes every year.

“In the absence of a radar in the area, the system will help track aircraft movements, enhancing safety and security,” said Rodante Joya, a deputy director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

Joya said the Philippines would install the 50-million-peso ($1.05-million) surveillance system on the island of Thitu, calling it by its Philippine name of Pagasa, to track about 200 commercial flights through the area each day.

The area in the South China Sea is among the blind spots in the Philippines’ airspace, he added.

The Philippines and Vietnam protested against China’s test flights on the Fiery Cross reef this month, saying Beijing might impose an air defence identification zone, restricting flights by commercial airlines over the South China Sea.

On January 7, China warned a small civilian plane carrying Philippine aviation officials who inspected Thitu, where the surveillance equipment is to be set up this year, as their craft flew near Beijing’s man-made island.

“The foreign ministry has been informed about the reported incident involving our civil aviation team,” presidential spokesman Herminio Coloma told reporters, adding that the foreign ministry was expected to make a statement on the matter.

The Philippine civil aviation agency has limited radar coverage and the military is expected to sign a deal this year for three aerial radars to detect airspace intrusions as far as 250 miles (402 km) away, beyond the exclusive economic zone.

COMMERCIAL PLANES LANDONKAGITINGAN Passengers and crew of a Hainan Airlines plane and a China SouthernAirlines plane pose for a souvenir photo on Kagitingan (Fiery Cross) Reef in the Spratlys that China has transformed into an airfield. The ChinaDaily newspaper said the two planes made the two-hour flight to the reef from Hainan province on Jan. 6. XINHUA/AP

Joya said the agency was waiting for approval from security and foreign affairs officials as the tracking system, or automatic dependent surveillance broadcast system, as it is called, is to be located on a military base in a disputed area.

Seven civil aviation radar stations will also be added, he said.



One of dozens of Vietnamese fishermen who have reported rammings, looting and other acts of aggression from Chinese vessels. This is Captain Pham Quang Thanh on the fishing boat that was set of fire by a Chinese naval boat off Hoang Sa

Chinese Coast Guard vessel ramming a Vietnamese ship, summer, 2014.

 (Contains links to several previous articles)


U.S. to stop managing Afghan airspace by end of June; Japan may step in

May 8, 2015


An aircraft is parked on the tarmac of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.

The Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan —The United States is to stop managing Afghan airspace by the end of June after its air-traffic control contract with the government in Kabul expires, a development that could see international airlines forced to cancel flights both into the country and over its territory.

According to an internal NATO memo seen by the AP, the U.S. government will not extend its current contract for another six months, to the end of 2015 — an extension that requires $25 million.

Meanwhile, Japan is considering dipping into its development fund to cover the second half of 2015. Tokyo would be willing to let the Afghan government use $25 million from its Counterpart Fund for a “bridging contract” until the end of the year, a Japanese official said.

Tokyo’s approval, however, is conditional on the contract not facilitating military operations in Afghanistan, which is prohibited under Japanese law, the official added.

“Our government is considering” this, the official said. “We think (a decision) should be very quick — hopefully before the expiry of the U.S. contract.”

Both the Western diplomat and the Japanese official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing talks on Afghan air traffic control.

Mohammad Qassim Wafayezada, the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority’s deputy director general on policy and planning, said Kabul is confident Japan will step in.

Unless a solution — even a temporary one — is found, Afghanistan would basically become a no-fly zone, which would cost the government millions of dollars in revenue and seriously damage its credibility with overseas donors and investors, officials and diplomats in Kabul warn.

The Afghan airspace, a key air corridor between Europe and Asia, has been managed by the U.S.-led international military coalition or foreign companies paid by donor countries since 2001, when the Taliban regime was overthrown in a U.S.-led invasion.

The air traffic over Afghanistan, as well as to and from the Central Asian country generates about $33 million a year, according to Wafayezada. International airlines that fly into the Afghan capital include the Dubai-based Emirates, Air India and Turkish Airlines. Many other airlines fly over Afghanistan.

There are no flights to and from the European Union because the Afghan Civil Aviation Authority is not recognized by the bloc, which cannot certify it due to safety deficiencies.

The current contract on Afghan air traffic control, paid for by the United States, ends June 30 and failure to renew it will mean that foreign airlines will not be able to use Afghan airspace.

It may be a scenario difficult to imagine but at the core is Kabul’s reluctance to take over responsibility for its airspace and put a new contract in place — paid for from its own budget.

This is likely contributing to donor fatigue, diplomats say.

“The international community does not want to be in a situation where we are continuously stuck with paying for this because they (Afghan authorities) are simply not seriously going to take it over,” a Western diplomat in Kabul told The Associated Press. “This is causing reluctance with some of the partners who would otherwise bridge the gap.”

If Japan steps in for the second half of the year, Afghanistan would take over managing its airspace from January 2016, he added. Kabul was supposed to take over at the start of this year, but Wafayezada said “technical issues” prevented this.

Now, the government is considering several bids from foreign companies to take on the contract from next year, he added, without elaborating.

Carriers need 30 days’ notice of the end of airspace control and if a new contract is not in place soon, NATO will have to inform airlines that Afghan airspace is no longer managed and that they should change routes.

The internal NATO memo stressed that “if no tangible progress is made” in the next two-three weeks, the international alliance will start preparing such notices.

“Such a notification would likely stop international carriers from flying to Afghanistan, causing severe revenue impact, severe follow-on economic impact and a major defeat in building investor confidence,” the memo said.

The implications of unmanaged airspace are serious. In changing routes, airlines would potentially incur higher fuel costs that would inevitably be transferred on to customers. Existing restrictions on use of airspace in other places, such as Syria and Iraq, would further complicate alternative flight paths.

The credibility of the government of Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, who took over last year in the first democratic transition of power in the country, would be damaged.

And with donors already tiring of Kabul’s regular need for cash handouts to cover budget expenses such as civil service payrolls, failure to take over its own airspace will likely further erode the government’s political capital.

Thai PM Asks King’s Permission to Lift Martial Law as Thailand Starts “Urgent” Aviation Safety Measures

March 31, 2015

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Tuesday he has asked for King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s permission to lift martial law which has been in place nationwide since before a May coup.

Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

The law, among other things, bans all political gatherings and gives the military sweeping powers of arrest and detention.

“I have asked for the king’s permission to lift martial law. The power is now with His Majesty,” Prayuth told reporters, adding that he would replace martial law with Article 44 in the interim constitution.

Tour operators had urged the junta to lift martial law, particularly in areas that attract many tourists, in order to boost the sector after months of protests in 2014 took a toll on international visitors to Thailand.

(Reporting by Pracha Hariraksapitak; Writing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

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Thailand Starts “Urgent” Aviation Safety Measures

Thai authorities on Monday said they would use special powers under junta rule to “urgently” improve airline safety as several carriers face bans on new international flights following concerns raised by a UN aviation agency.


BANGKOK: Thai authorities on Monday said they would use special powers under junta rule to “urgently” improve airline safety as several carriers face bans on new international flights following concerns raised by a UN aviation agency.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a United Nations body, recently reported “significant safety concerns” to Thailand’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) after an audit earlier in the year.

In response Japan last week blocked new flights from Thailand in a move affecting charter services by budget carriers Thai AirAsia X and NokScoot as well as Asia Atlantic Airlines, the DCA said, adding existing flights would not be impacted.

Flag carrier Thai Airways has also been hit, saying in a statement on its Facebook page on Saturday that two charter flights scheduled for Japan next month had been affected.

At a press conference on Monday premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha told reporters he would use Section 44 of the interim constitution – imposed after he seized power from an elected government last May and which gives him absolute powers over legislative, executive and judicial decisions – to expedite safety improvements.

“We have to accept that we are losing revenue from this, I am serious about solving the problem,” he said.

In what appears to be a growing fallout of the ICAO decision a transport ministry official, deputy permanent secretary Voradej Harnprasert, told reporters that airlines including Thai Airways and Nok Air may also face a potential ban on new flights from Seoul and Beijing. It was not immediately possible to confirm these bans.

Prayut also said that he had raised the aviation safety issue with the Japanese prime minister and the South Korean president on the sidelines of the funeral of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew on Sunday.


The UN body has flagged several safety concerns including Thai aviation department personnel failing to meet international standards and a lack of full aviation regulations, Transport Minister Prajin Juntong told the press conference. The ICAO headquarters in Montreal could not immediately be reached for further details on the points it has raised.

Thai authorities have set up two new committees to tackle the concerns and will send teams to South Korea, China, Australia and Germany to discuss the issues following a trip to Japan late last week, Prajin added.

Earlier in the day the minister had said Thailand was warned about its aviation management after an earlier ICAO audit in 2005. “(They) asked us to improve our systems. I understand we have to improve urgently.”

In its statement released last Thursday the DCA had said it would provide new training for staff and increase airline inspections as part of its overhaul.

Section 44 has been under the spotlight in Thailand in recent days after Prayut on Friday said he was considering lifting martial law, imposed two days before May’s coup, and replacing it with an order under this controversial portion of the interim charter.

Several local rights groups have urged the junta chief to rethink the plans, issuing a joint statement maintaining their call to lift martial law but saying the impact of invoking the new order would be “much worse”.

Under martial law Thailand’s generals have banned political gatherings of more than five people, outlawed criticism of the ruling regime and tried civilians in military courts.

China Is About To Open Its Skies To Private Aircraft

December 28, 2013
By Fang Yan and Matthew Miller, Reuters
china plane
He Yide sits in a glider before flying a plane in Guan county, Hebei province, August 31, 2013. He, 5, piloted a plane, accompanied by his coach last Saturday. REUTERS/Stringer
BEIJING (Reuters) – Ferraris and Rolls-Royces have become common sights in China’s cities as a new class of super-rich indulge a growing appetite for luxury, but tight regulation has meant the private jet, the ultimate status symbol of the global elite, remains rare.Recent rules changes, however, indicate that China is preparing to open its skies to private aircraft, in a move that may herald the greatest expansion of business and private aviation in the last 30 years.Last month, China’s aviation regulator simplified flight approval procedures for private aircraft and lowered the threshold for obtaining a private pilot license.

More importantly, the implementation of little-noticed guidelines issued by China’s State Council and the Central Military Commission in 2010 will gradually lift the ceiling for low-flying aircraft by 2020.

For companies such as Cessna, Gulfstream, Dassault Aviation SA and Bombardier Inc, which have spent the last decade trying to build their China business, it may present a unique opportunity to expand in the world’s fastest-growing aviation market.

“This tells everyone publicly that China now endorses the use of business aircraft and general aviation just like any other countries worldwide,” Roger Sperry, Gulfstream’s senior vice president of international sales, told Reuters in an interview. “I’m nothing but optimistic.”

General aviation, which refers to all flights that are not operated by airlines, charter firms or the military, is already a $150 billion business in the United States.

In contrast, there are only 1,610 registered general aviation aircraft in China, the latest figures from the China General Aviation Association show.

That compares with about 228,000 in the United States, according to Craig Spence, secretary general of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations.


Joseph Tymczyszyn, a former representative of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in China, said when he mentioned private aircraft to Chinese industry officials nine years ago he was told commercial aviation was the priority.

“When I talked to CAAC about general aviation in 2004, Ma Tao said, ‘Don’t waste your time and money, nobody is interested in that’,” Tymczyszyn, a co-founder and executive director of the U.S.-China Aviation Cooperation Program, told Reuters.

Ma, then the deputy director general of the Flight Standards Department of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), was among a group of Chinese aviation officials who often visited the United States, where their experience of general aviation began to change attitudes, Tymczyszyn recalled.

Still, in a country where the military controls 80 percent of airspace there were formidable obstacles to expanding private air travel. Approval for a three-hour trip on a private plane would take at least two weeks and was never guaranteed.

Lack of facilities where small planes can take off, land or refuel, as well as a dearth of low-altitude aviation maps, have meant hopping on a private plane to visit the other side of the country for the weekend remains a dream for even the most well-heeled.

“We had a few sales in 2006, 2007 and 2008, but very limited in numbers,” recalled Jean Michel Jacob, senior vice president of international sales with France’s Dassault Falcon.

Sales started to pick up in 2010 and so far the French company has sold 30 jets in China, with 20 scheduled for delivery in 2014-2015.

For U.S. rival Gulfstream, owned by General Dynamics Corp, Greater China represents about 6 percent of a worldwide delivery of 2,150 jets, compared with 65 percent to the United States.

Business jet sales in China for Canada’s Bombardier have topped 100, while Textron Inc’s Cessna has sold more than 70 planes.

All are gearing up for growth.


In November 2012, Gulfstream’s Beijing maintenance centre, with an 82,000 sq ft (7,600 sq m) hangar, opened for business.

Dassault Falcon, which has maintenance facilities in Hong Kong and Shanghai, is scheduled open a new one in Beijing next year, and plans to recruit more native Chinese speakers to its sales team.

Cessna has already started delivery of its Grand Caravan EX made at its China venture with state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). Delivery of its Citation XLS+ jets built by a separate venture with AVIC is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to William Schultz, senior vice president of Business Development at Cessna Aircraft’s China operations.

Bombardier forecasts overall business jet deliveries in Greater China at 2,420 in 2013-2032, with 1,000 to be delivered in 2013-2022, rising to 1,420 during 2023-2032.

The growth, industry insiders say, would be fuelled in part by demand for smaller jets in a country where large-cabin models, such as Dassault’s Falcon 7x or Gulfstream’s G550 and G650, are among the best sellers.

“There is a beautiful potential in this market,” Beijing-based Jacob told Reuters.


Guidance issued by regulators in 2010 aims to open up airspace below 1,000 meters (3,280 ft) by 2015 and expand to airspace below 3,000 meters by 2020.

Pilot scheme were started in Changchun in the northeast, and Guangzhou and Hainan Island in the south, where private aircraft owners need only submit flight plans before 3 p.m. the previous day, unless they encroach on militarily sensitive areas.

The experiment was expanded to other cities in 2012 and will spread other regions gradually.

“It’s pretty much like the way China transformed itself from a planned economy to a market-oriented economy in the 1980s,” said Ke Yubao, executive secretary general of state-backed Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of China.

“It all started from the Shenzhen special economic zone and then spread to other parts of the country.”

Besides investing billions in new airport construction, for both commercial and general aviation, China has also been making progress with low-altitude aviation maps, a source told Reuters.

And once general aviation spreads its wings, there may be fewer frustrated drivers in China increasingly congested cities, where traffic can move at snail’s pace in rush hours and weekends.

“I laughed when I saw people in a Ferrari going one mile an hour in a Beijing traffic jam. If you buy a Cirrus or Cessna, you can actually go 150 miles an hour and it’s more fun,” said Tymczyszyn.

(Editing by Alex Richardson)