Hainan Airlines, together with China Eastern and China Southern, share 20% of Tibetan aviation market 
The newly approved State-owned Tibet Airlines Thursday chose three Airbus A319s in a move to build up its fleet, and experts believe that the aviation market in the restive region is heating up.
"The carriers will start operation within the region and to major cities across the nation, and there’s a plan to expand the fleet to some 20 aircraft over the next five years," said Liu Yanping, general manager of Lhasa-based Tibet Airlines, Thursday.
Cheng Hui, executive director board with Tibet Airlines, said it is expecting to see its maiden flight in mid 2011.

With a registered capital of 280 million yuan ($ 41.23 million), the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) approved the first carrier based in Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region in March.
"The new carrier will help relieve the long-existing transport capacity pressure because there are only 39 aircraft that can operate in the high altitude," said Lin Zhijie, an industry analyst from Singapore-based Kent Ridge Consulting, an aviation sector consultant, Thursday.
Currently, there are four models that can operate in Tibet, and over 80 percent of commercial flights are A319s and A330s.
"It will definitely add competition for Tibet," said Lin.
Currently, six domestic airlines operate in Tibet with a total of 16 flight routes, said Xu Bo, director of the Tibetan branch of CAAC, Thursday.
Air China has a more than 50 percent share of the region’s aviation market, followed by Sichuan Airlines of 30 percent.
The remaining 20 percent is shared between China Southern, China Eastern, Shenzhen Airlines and Hainan Airlines, Xu added.
"It will take time for Tibet Airlines to grow amid the competition," said Xu.
Lin from Kent-Ridge also warned that making use of the off season will be a problem for Tibet Airlines.
In Tibet, the off season is normally from the end of October to June of next year.

SOURCE: Global Times
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