Transport Airlines

Japanese Low-Cost Carrier Peach Braves China’s Restricted Flight Zone

Nov 27, 2013 5:00 am

Skift Take

It seems obvious to say this is all about picking a fight when there’s no need to. Putting airlines in the middle of it all is just as big of a waste.

— Jason Clampet

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JonPsPICs  / Flickr

A Peach plane in Osaka. JonPsPICs / Flickr


Peach Aviation Ltd., a low-fare carrier affiliated with ANA Holdings Inc., said it flew safely through a new Chinese air-defense zone after Japan yesterday asked carriers to stop giving flight information to China.

The flight from Osaka touched down in Taipei this morning, Naoto Domeki, a spokesman for the carrier, said by phone today. ANA and Japan Airlines Co., the country’s two biggest carriers, yesterday said they are reversing an earlier decision and would stop reporting flight plans for planes traveling through the Chinese zone that Japan rejects.

Japan’s government yesterday told its domestic airlines to stop providing flight information to China, which has mandated planes to give details when flying through the new zone it created. Japan has denounced the move and the U.S. military flew two unarmed B-52 bombers into the area, which includes a chain of islands in the East China Sea that are disputed by Asia’s two largest economies.

ANA and JAL said they would halt the sharing of the flight- plan data starting today, spokesmen said by phone. The carriers shifted their stance on instructions from Japan’s airline trade group, which acted as an intermediary between the airlines and Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau, Maho Ito, an ANA spokeswoman, said by telephone.

The U.S. military flew two unarmed B-52 bombers into the zone without any incident, according to a U.S. defense official. China announced the air-defense identification zone effective Nov. 23 and said its military will take “defensive emergency measures” if aircraft enter the area without reporting flight plans or identifying themselves.

Disputed Islands

The disputed islands, known as Diaoyu in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese, lie inside the new air defense zone. Both nations claim sovereignty over the area, whose waters are rich in oil, natural gas and fish. The dispute comes as China and Japan seek a greater role in the region, courting nations in Southeast Asia.

The information that ANA had been supplying to China was the same shared with other countries, according to Ryosei Nomura, a spokesman for the Tokyo-based carrier. The data included planes’ route, and cruising altitude and flight time, Nomura said.

Other countries’ carriers are awaiting government guidance.

Extra Steps

“There has been no change to our operations,” Lee Hyo Min, a spokeswoman for Seoul-based Asiana Airlines Inc., said yesterday. “We have not yet provided any flight plans to China on services that pass through the zone because there has been no guideline from the government. We will make change if and when the government revises this guidelines.”

Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., the Hong Kong-based carrier, said its flight operations are normal. The creation of the zone hasn’t affected operations of commercial flights so far, the International Air Transport Association said in an e-mailed response to Bloomberg News.

“Some airlines have had to take some extra steps at the moment, such as filing flight plans manually,” IATA said. “We are trying to get more details from the Chinese authorities to clarify ongoing operational requirements.”

The announcement of the zone follows a decision by Communist Party leaders this month, after a meeting led by President Xi Jinping, to form a state committee to coordinate security issues as China broadens its military reach.

With assistance from Kyunghee Park in Singapore and Jasmine Wang in Hong Kong. Editors: Anand Krishnamoorthy, Vipin V. Nair. To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Cooper in Tokyo at ccooper1@bloomberg.net; Kiyotaka Matsuda in Tokyo at kmatsuda@bloomberg.net. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anand Krishnamoorthy at anandk@bloomberg.net.

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