Following continued efforts to construct a “Chinese Memphis,” the State Council of the People’s Republic of China recently stated its approval allowing Zhengzhou Xinzheng (CGO) and Xi’an Xianyang (XIY) international airports the right to each negotiate fifth-freedom cargo services.
On Nov. 23, the Chinese State Council published a “Notice on Supporting Measures for Deepening Reform and Innovation of Free Trade Zones” which, in sections 30, 31 and 32, outlines government support of CGO and XIY using fifth freedom rights in negotiating foreign aviation rights. The “fifth freedom” allows foreign airlines to carry passenger and cargo traffic from one’s own country to a second country, and from that country to a third country (and so on).
While several Chinese airports have tested fifth-freedom flights since 2003, the Chinese government, via this notice, is actively recommending that foreign airlines apply for entry into the Chinese market to fly into CGO and XIY.
Although many airports are vying to become central aviation nodes to the government’s “Belt and Road” strategy, Xi’an and Zhengzhou stand out amongst other cities as central hub contenders, given their geographic location in Central China and their logistics networks.
Both Xi’an and Zhengzhou provide strategic points for national networks to connect China to its neighbors. The cities each invested in their airport and logistics network development at a rapid pace, which quickly attracted global companies earned them both recognition as emerging aviation logistics hubs.
To complement each of their cities’ logistics networks, CGO and XIY reported figures placing them amongst China’s airports with the highest growth rates. Last year, CGO reported moving 50,2715 tonnes of cargo, with a year-over-year growth rate of 10.1 percent. XIY reported a cargo throughput of 25,9873 tonnes, with a y-o-y increase of 11.2 percent.
Only time will tell how this notice influences cargo numbers, but it is clear that the Chinese government has given XIY and CGO each a green light for fifth-freedom negotiations, which will likely expand aviation networks in the country within the near future.