Air travel ‘safe’, says official


Air passengers will be guaranteed safety during the upcoming Beijing Olympics, a senior civil aviation official said Monday.

Li Jiaxiang, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), was speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing NPC session in reference to the foiled attempt on Friday to crash a passenger jet bound for Beijing.

“China’s civil aviation industry adopts very tight security measures, which in recent years have been among the best in the world,” Li said.

“We have the capability to guarantee the safety of airline passengers.”

A China Southern Airlines flight that took off from Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, was forced to make an emergency landing on Friday at Lanzhou, capital of neighboring Gansu province, because “some people were attempting to create an air disaster”, Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang regional government, said on Sunday.

The Southern Metropolis News quoted an unnamed source yesterday as saying at least two people, including an 18- or 19-year-old girl, were involved in the attempt.

An air hostess smelled a faint odor of gasoline and traced it to the girl, who was put under restraint, the paper said. The suspect was trying to ignite the fuel to cause an explosion in the airplane, the newspaper quoted a CAAC circular as saying.

The paper also said loopholes in the safety procedures at Xinjiang airport were to blame.

Although declining to comment on the accusation, Li, the former head of Air China, the nation’s largest airline company, said “measures will be taken to strengthen the safety of air transportation” for the upcoming Beijing Games.