Yesterday, the European Union and China signed bilateral agreements on civil aviation safety and a “horizontal aviation agreement,” allowing E.U. airlines to fly to China from any E.U. Member State with a bilateral air services agreement with China under which unused traffic rights are available.
The agreements are expected to expand cooperation between China and the E.U. in civil aviation safety areas including airworthiness and environmental certification, flight operations, air traffic control, licensing, and training, according to a report from CAAC News. The agreements are also expected to have significant economic benefits of about €3.5 billion for the E.U. and China by 2025, with expansions in passenger and freight operations. Currently, the European Commission estimates there are about 110 weekly round-trip freighter flights between China and the E.U.
The E.U. and China have made significant efforts to expand their aviation industries over the past year – as indicated, for example, by the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s (CAAC) December 2018 report that the number of airports in the country will nearly double by 2035, as well as individual efforts by European airports and authorities to ease customs hurdles and slot restrictions. However, those issues have continued to plague operators and airports in both regions, as David Su, Chairman at YTO Cargo Airlines, said last month during a discussion at Cargo Facts Asia.
As our sister site Cargo Facts reported, Su said YTO has faced slot restrictions not only at major Chinese airports, but in the Netherlands, Germany and France, primarily due to limited traffic rights with those countries. The most direct solution, he said, is for “the CAAC to go for more bilateral negotiations with those countries, to open them a little more for our traffic.” With yesterday’s agreements, expanded cargo traffic rights between the E.U. and China are expected to materialize soon.
In 2019, Chinese aviation and logistics authorities have already made significant efforts to expand airfreight cooperation agreements overseas. In April, China and Uruguay signed a memorandum of understanding to establish an air transport and customs agreements between the countries, while Budapest Airport (BUD) signed agreements with Xi’an (XIY) and Zhengzhou (CGO) to increase connections between China and Hungary. Under the ongoing “Belt and Road” initiative in China to expand infrastructure development and trade routes in the region and beyond, more agreements are expected between China and external trade partners in the years ahead.