China conducts successful test flights at new airfield in South China Sea

World Today

Photo: Xinhua

China successfully carried out test flights of two civilian aircraft on Wednesday on a newly-built airfield in the Nansha Islands of the South China Sea.

Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

The two planes took off from Meilan airport in Haikou, capital of Hainan province, flying for two hours to land at the airfield on Yongshu Jiao in the Nansha Islands at 10:21 a.m. and 10:46 a.m. local time, respectively.

A China Southern Airlines flight lands at the airfield in Yongshu Jiao in Nansha Islands in the South China Sea on Jan 6, 2016. (Photo: Xinhua)


A China Southern Airlines flight lands at the airfield in Yongshu Jiao in Nansha Islands in the South China Sea on Jan 6, 2016. (Photo:Xinhua)


Xinhua reports that the test flights could help better serve the needs of many vessels and seafarers. The article said that the airfield has been built with the aim of providing more access to transportation of materials, personnel, and medical services.

In addition to that, it says that the airfield will help in meteorological monitoring and ocean exploration, along with facilitating maritime research, given its “convenient location in the middle of a vast sea.”

The South China Sea is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the Xinhua article said the airfield could help reduce time in searching for missing vessels and aircraft.

Citing the example of the missing MH 370 jet, it added that in that case, it had taken rescue vessels and planes quite some time to reach search locations, and “a land base like Yongshu Jiao could have significantly reduced the time it took the rescuers to arrive there.”

In response to a question about concerns raised by Vietnam about China’s test flights to the airfield, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on January 2 that the “activity falls completely within China’s sovereignty.”

Story compiled with information from Xinhua and CCTV News.

  • disqus_Rv1GqOyTeN

    Reliable air traffic tracking system is proved to be lacking
    in the South China Sea. The mysterious
    disappearance of MH370 is a good example, in which scores of Chinese national
    lost their lifes. Thanks to the Vietnamese and Malaysian ineffective air
    traffic control. China’s
    new airfield will serve to enhance the safety for all air travelers in the

  • disqus_Rv1GqOyTeN

    I am frustrated The Japan Times. They did not allow me to
    post similar comment. They said it was blocked by DISQUS. Apparently they do
    not tolerate views different from theirs.