Heli-Eastern are the first to obtain a permit for cross-border helicopter flights. Photo: Heli-Eastern

An inauguration ceremony was held in Shenzen on June 28 for Chinese aviation company Heli-Eastern, which was awarded the first cross-border flying license in China.

On that morning, the first Guangdong-Hong Kong cross-border helicopter flight took off from Shenzhen Baoan Aiport and arrived at the Hong Kong Shun Tak helipad after 10 minutes, marking the smooth introduction of the cross-border helicopter route between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

Zhao Wei, the Chairman of the Department of Navigation, said a lot of communication and coordination was needed between the relevant departments in the two cities. Preparations for this inaugural cross-border flight took one year due to the complex airspace conditions in the Greater Bay Area. A special team was set up by Heli-Eastern to obtain the flight permit.

Compared with typical flights, cross-border flights are subject to different standards in the mainland and Hong Kong. Approval must be sought from the Civil Aviation Administration of China, the Chinese Air Force and the Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department. In addition, border inspections, customs, quarantine and other related institutions had to be consulted before the cross-border flight.

Hong Kong and Shenzhen are two of the main hubs in the Greater Bay Area. Helicopters will effectively improve the operational efficiency of Greater Bay Area enterprises and create a “15-minute” economy between the two cities.

The demand for helicopters in the cross-border market is huge, with the main focus in business travel, medical evacuation and tourism.

Large-scale enterprises stationed in Shenzhen have a large demand for traveling from Shenzhen to Hong Kong. For instance, 70% of Huawei’s business is conducted on a multinational level. A large number of people go to and from Guangdong province and Hong Kong. By land, it takes at least three hours to commute.

Cross-border flights can also play an important role in terms of emergency rescues. Medical support services for mainland residents and Hong Kong residents working and living in the mainland can be utilized.

As for tourism, the cross-border helicopter flights bring new opportunities. Both cities have unique landscapes ranging from Shenzhen Bay to Victoria Harbour. Tourists can experience how the two cities have developed 40 years after reform and opening up.

Zhao said Heli-Eastern obtaining the cross-border permit marks a positive and important landmark in the implementation of the “Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau-Greater Bay Area Development Plan.” These flights will help build the Greater Bay Area into a world-class city cluster and also reform low-altitude flights in the region,” he said.

He added that Heli-Eastern was committed to promoting low-altitude traffic. In the coming five years they will be building 1,00 strategic helipads and build an air corridor with a radius of 500 kilometers with Shenzhen at its center.

The success of the inaugural ceremony marked the Greater Bay Area entering into a new era of low-altitude travel – enabling efficient flow of personnel, logistics, information and capital.

This article was first published on ATimesCN.com and translated by Kamaran Malik.

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