BEIJING, March 26 A new high-speed rail link
between two inland Chinese cities has cut travel times so
dramatically that all competing air services on the route have
been suspended, state media said.
The suspension of flights between the gritty industrial city
of Zhengzhou and Xian, home of the Terracotta Warriors, came just
48 days after the express railway began operations, the official
Xinhua news agency said on Friday.
The 505 km (314 miles) railway, on which trains run at a top
speed of 350 km per hour, has cut the travel time between the two
cities from more than six hours to less than two, the report
said. By contrast, flying takes just over an hour. Xian's airport
is also located at least an hour away by road from downtown.
Before the railway opened, Joy Air, one of the domestic
airlines flying the route, managed to sell an average of more
than 60 percent of seats for the route, Xinhua said.
Zhengzhou airport confirmed that all flights to and from Xian
had now stopped, the report added.
China is spending billions of dollars on a network of
high-speed railways, including one from Beijing to the country's
financial capital Shanghai, posing a challenge to airlines which
had profited from China's vast size and slow roads and trains.
By 2012, China would have more than 13,000 km of high-speed
railway, Xinhua said.
"By then, 60 percent of China's domestic air market will be
affected by the high-speed railways," Liu Chaoyong, general
manager of China Eastern Airlines (600115.SS) (0670.HK), was
quoted as saying.
China Eastern last year agreed to sell 35 percent of Joy Air,
in which it held 40 percent, to state-owned Aviation Industry
Corp of China. [ID:nSHA152165]