High-speed railway outplaces China regional air services

Air services between Zhengzhou and Xi'an, two Chinese provincial capital cities, were suspended on Thursday, 48 days after a high-speed railway line started operation between the two destinations.

The Xinzheng International Airport in Zhengzhou, capital of central China's Henan Province, confirmed all flights on the route have stopped operation.

A spokesman of Joy Air, one of the airliners offering flight services on the route, said the Zhengzhou-Xi'an line was chosen as one of the first three air routes opened by the company when it started business in August 2009. The daily flight was good with 63.3 percent of the air tickets sold until the high-speed railway began operation in February this year.

The 505-km railway with a speed of 350 km per hour was the first high-speed rail line in central and western China. It cut the travel time between the two cities from more than six hours to less than two hours.

"It saves both time and money to take trains than the air travel," said Wang Tieshan, a PhD student with the Xi'an Jiaotong University.

The air trip alone takes 70 minutes, but the travel from downtowns to the two airports also cost time, he said.

A total of seven two-way trains everyday on the line can basically meet the demand, he said.

Pang Chong, a sales manager with the Shandong Airline, said Chinese airliners should avoid opening air routes where high-speed railway lines were opened or planned, when exploring regional air market.

China will complete a high-speed railway network with a total length of 13,000 km by 2012, according to a plan of the Ministry of Railways.

"By then, 60 percent of China's domestic air market will be affected by the high-speed railways," said Liu Chaoyong, general manager of China Eastern.

(Xinhua, March 26, 2010)