Thursday, April 30, 2009

RTAF tracks Thaksin's jet into Cambodia

Published: 30/04/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

Thaksin Shinawatra's private plane travelled to Cambodia twice after the convicted former prime minister skipped bail, according to information leaked from the Royal Thai Air Force.

A source said RTAF chief Itthaporn Subhawong ordered the air force's radar centre to monitor movements along the Cambodia border.

The centre confirmed that Thaksin's private jet was seen flying to Cambodia on two occasions.

The jet landed in Phnom Penh and Koh Kong, the source said.

Defence Minister Tea Banh, in an exclusive interview with Bangkok Post military reporter Wassana Nanuam, denied any contact between Cambodia and Thaksin.
"I have never seen Thaksin come here to Cambodia," he told the reporter.
"Why should he have to come here? What's the use of coming here? We cannot do anything to help him now. He might want to go somewhere else, but not Cambodia."

Thaksin is currently in exile abroad after leaving the country while on bail awaiting trial on charges of abuse of power over the Ratchadaphisek land deal during his term in office. He was sentenced in absentia to two years in jail.

Cambodian Defence Minister Tea Banh yesterday said Cambodia had not issued Thaksin with a passport.

Speaking at the 6th meeting of the Thai-Cambodia General Border Committee (GBC) in Siem Reap, Gen Tea Banh said Thaksin had not sought refuge or gone into hiding in Cambodia. He was at one stage rumoured to be in Phnom Penh and Koh Kong, from where he conducted his phone-in addresses to red shirt supporters in Thailand.

Prime Minister Hun Sen was unhappy about the rumours, said Gen Tea Banh, who condemned the hearsay for causing mistrust between the two countries.

He said the Cambodian government had investigated rumours of Thaksin being in Cambodia and found them to be groundless.

"Why should Mr Thaksin have to come here to Cambodia? He will not get anything here and we can't help him any longer," the minister said.

Gen Tea Banh said Cambodia did not want to get involved in Thai politics. It just wanted Thailand to restore peace and reconciliation so the two countries could work together to solve their border disputes.

Hollywood could hold key to finding Russian pilots lost in Africa

29 April, 2009, 10:07

The Hollywood film ‘Lord of War’ starring Nicolas Cage as an alleged Russian arms dealer Victor Bout is now in the center of another scandal involving the disappearance of several cargo crews in Africa in the nineties.

The blockbuster ‘Lord of War’ showed Nicolas Cage’s hero as a dangerously handsome arms dealer who never loses his cynical sense of humour. As Cage’s hero put it:

“There are 550 million firearms in the worldwide circulation. That’s one firearm per every 12 people on the planet. The only question is: how do we arm the other 11?”

It is claimed that this role was inspired by Russian businessman Victor Bout, who, for over a year now, has been held in custody in Bangkok.

Read more

Now a new scandal could surface concerning the movie. The very AN-12 plane that was used by Nicolas Cage in the movie is allegedly one of those that disappeared in Angola together with its crew in the nineties.

While there has been no response from the movie makers, Sergey Kudryashov from the Returning Pilots Home Foundation, is positive that this fresh clue could help find their boys.

“Surely there can be mistakes. But if you worked with the plane you'll definitely recognize it. Little dents, extra antennae and so on. It's just like spotting your own car among similar ones,” Kudryashov said.

Back in the nineties many crews from the former USSR took off for the warm skies of Africa in the quest for big bucks for air cargo services. However, not all of them were lucky enough to find their way back.

To this day there are over 20 people missing. The last plane vanished just two years ago. While no-one knows what happened to them, or even if they're still alive, relatives still cling to the hope that one day they'll see their loved ones again.

“I believe that our boys are still alive. They are probably enslaved, but alive,” said a relative of a missing Russian pilot Valentina Kozlova.

“Some time ago we were shown a crash site, but then the officials admitted that they were mistaken as the human remains were non Slavic. None of us believed in their death then and no-one believes it now.”

With the planes starting to disappear back in the nineties, some of the families have not seen their loved ones for over a decade now. Relatives have tried almost everything and keep in close contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Yet so far all has been in vain, but every new clue still keeps their faith afloat.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thai Airways opens Oslo - Bangkok route

Thai Airways International Public Company Limited starts a new non-stop service between Oslo and Bangkok.
The operation will start on 15th June, 2009 and there will be 5 weekly departures on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Departure time from Oslo is 14.55 hrs. with arrival Bangkok at 06.20 hrs. local time on the following day. Departure time from Bangkok is 00.35 hrs. with arrival Oslo at 07.00 hrs. local time on the same day. The schedule has been adjusted to fit with domestic flights in Norway, as well as with THAI’s flights between Bangkok and regional routes in Asia and Australia/New Zealand.

The service between Oslo and Bangkok is introduced 30 years after opening of TAs sales office in Oslo in 1979. Since then, the growth of traffic between Norway and Asia, leisure as well as corporate, has increased steadily. In 2008, more than 130,000 Norwegians visited Thailand, and THAI has several times received the Norwegian Grand Travel Award for best intercontinental airline.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

New witness emerges in Bout case in Thailand

BANGKOK, April 24 (Itar-Tass) -- A new witness has emerged in the case of Russian citizen Viktor Bout, who is being tried in Thailand.

According to a document received by the Itar-Tass Bangkok office on Friday, U.S. citizen Richard Chichakli is a witness for the defense. U.S. security services and a UN report repeatedly mentioned Chichakli as a partner and the financial director of Bout companies in South Africa.

Chichakli sent his testimony to the court in writing. He said that he had been persecuted by the American government since 2005 and had no chance for a fair trial because he had refused to support the attempts to seize Bout.

In the words of Chichakli, the investigation of his alleged business relationship with Bout was held in 2002-2008 and did not expose any violations.

Chichakli said that the George W. Bush administration started the political persecution of Bout in 2004 and he experienced the same persecution when he raised his voice.

Alla Bout told Itar-Tass that Chichakli came to South Africa from the United States in the 1990s for auditing her husband’s companies.

“In the same period Viktor was approached by U.S. agents, who suggested cooperation and asked for information about transport operations on the African continent. The cooperation was denied, and the persecution started. Richard Chichakli was the alleged proof to the existence of mythical companies of the husband. His property and accounts were seized in the United States some time later. The American government claimed they were the assets of the husband, who had never been to the United States and never had any accounts there,” she said.

Chichakli stressed that the American authorities claimed that his frozen accounts allegedly belonged to Bout.

The Bout myth was created by UN contractor named Johan Peleman in 2000; Bout had been an ordinary man until then, Chichakli said. In his words, Peleman’s report was stuffed with false information, including that about Chichakli. The report claimed that Chichakli was the financial director in charge of daily operations of the conglomerate headquartered in South Africa while Chichakli was serving in the U.S. Army in another part of the world at that time.

The Thai court will decide whether to accept the testimony on April 29.

In the opinion of Alla Bout, “the evidence supported with documents is a serious and logical proof of the U.S. political persecution of Bout and people who contacted him even briefly.”

Bout was apprehended in Bangkok in March 2008 on suspicion of illegal arms trade. The United States demands his transfer and lifetime imprisonment. No evidence to his culpability has been presented to the court, and the prosecutor bases his statements on newspaper articles.

Airlines Liftoff Gives Phuket Fresh Flying Start

By Alan Morison
Saturday, April 25, 2009
BLUE skies lie ahead this week for Phuket and its potential as an air hub for the region.

On Thursday last week, the 14-member board of the Airports of Thailand flew to Phuket to meet and confirmed plans to almost double the capacity of Phuket airport before 2020.

On Thursday this week, low-cost carrier AirAsia will open a new store on the beach road in Patong with an extravagant giveaway of 700 umbrellas to the local municipality. And on Friday May 1, another low-cost carrier, Firefly, starts a new daily service between Phuket and Kuala Lumpur, giving passengers greater choice on the popular route.

Both brands are likely to be striving to compete for the attention of island residents and visitors over the coming months.

If the opening ceremony this week at the first Bangkok sales office for AirAsia is anything to go by, Thursday's event in Patong should be something to see.

Festivities at the Khao San Road sales office began with the handover ceremony of 30 decorated padthai carts to street vendors in the Banglumpoo area.

While Internet bookings are increasingly popular for flight seekers, face-to-face one-stop service is also seen as consistently important.

Patong is Phuket's equivalent of Khao San Road, and a whole lot more.

While AirAsia will be on the beach road, Firefly's new office, in the Jungceylon lifestyle mall, opened earlier this month.

Both airlines have strong Malaysian connections, with Firefly a community airline supported by the mainstream Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

It may also be no coincidence that Phuket's first four-day Halal Meeting and Exhibition on the Beach begins on April 30, with Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva likely to make a visit to the island the following day for an official opening.

A trade and technology conference highlighting the potential of halal will take place at the Hilton Arcadia Phuket on Karon beach, with a four-day fair in the public park at Saphan Hin from Thursday.

Strong contributions from Indonesia and Malaysia should be evident at both events and tens of thousands of people are expected at the fair.

As for Phuket's future, it seems to be a good week to make a flying fresh start.

Media Jet to Phuket as AoT Board Meets
Latest The Airports of Thailand board is to meet on Phuket to consider the island's attractions and the plan for airport expansion. With Asean coming in June, security will be an issue too.
Media Jet to Phuket as AoT Board Meets

Daily KL Flights Spark Phuket 'Air War'
'War in the Air' New daily flights from Phuket to Kuala Lumpur are being offered by no frills Firefly. KL flights mean budget competition for AirAsia, which plans a Phuket hub.
Daily KL Flights Spark Phuket 'Air War'

Phuket to Become Thai Air Asia Hub
Economy Boost Plans are underway to make Phuket a second hub for Thai Air Asia flights. One Two Go is also looking at expanding its reach internationally.
Phuket to Become Thai Air Asia Hub

Phuket Deals: How to Fly Paradise For Less
Great Prices Airlines are slashing prices and offering deals to win back tourists to Phuket and Thailand after the airports blockade. Here are some flying starts.
Phuket Deals: How to Fly Paradise For Less

Firefly Subang, Penang-Singapore flights soon

Firefly, a wholly owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines, will start flights from Subang and Penang in Malaysia to Singapore from June 1, 2009. In a statement, Firefly Airlines– the low-cost airline that operates from its hub at Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – said that the carrier would also fly from four other places in Malaysia – Ipoh, Terengganu, Kuantan and Malacca – to Singapore in 2009.

Eddy Leong, managing director of Firefly, said in a statement that Firefly Airlines would fly 28 times a week from Subang, 14 times a week from Penang, four times a week from Ipoh, three times a week from Terengganu and Kuantan, and four times a week from Malacca.

The Terengganu-Singapore, Kuantan-Singapore and Ipoh-Singapore flights will begin in July 2009.

The four-times-a-week flight between Malacca and Singapore is expected to take off on September 1, 2009.

From May 2 and 15, 2009, Firefly would operate services to Batam and Padang in view of the “increased inflow of travellers for business, leisure, medical and educational purposes into Malaysia,” Leong said.

Firefly, which started flying on April 3, 2007, to Kota Bharu in Malaysia, is Malaysia’s first community airline. At present, it operates services from Penang and Subang to destinations in Malaysia and Thailand.

Eddy Leong said in the statement that the use of Subang Airport – the former international airport that is just one hour from Kuala Lumpur – would give Firefly “an advantage over other carriers that use Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which is at Sepang, over an hour from Kuala Lumpur.”

Firefly, added Leong, has received approval from Malaysia’s Transport Ministry and also has been approved as the designated airline to fly into Singapore.

He said that Firefly, which currently uses five ATR 72-500 turboprop aircraft, was likely to buy two more planes in 2009.

Meanwhile, Jetstar Asia and Tiger Airways have said that they would start flights between Singapore and Langkawi and Penang in Malaysia in 2009.

Jetstar Asia said that it had obtained approval from the Air Traffic Rights Committee to commence services from Singapore to Penang and Langkawi.

Jetstar Asia already flies between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu. The new flights to Penang and Langkawi would be its 17th and 18th destinations, respectively.

Myanmar building new airport for capital

YANGON, April 25, 2009 (AFP) - Myanmar's military government is constructing a new international airport in the administrative capital Naypyidaw that will be able to handle 10.5 million passengers a year, state media said Saturday.

Work on The Nay Pyi Taw International Airport Project was begun in January by the privately-owned Asia World, which also constructed Yangon International Airport, an article in the New Light of Myanmar newspaper said.

The new airport in the remote capital will be built in three stages, it said.

'After the first phase is completed, the airport will be able to cope with 3.5 million passengers, and after the third phase is completed, it will be able to cope with 10.5 million passengers annually,' the paper said.

The project will take an estimated 30 months to complete, said Singapore-based CPG Consultants, which drew up the blueprints, according to the daily.

'The design of Nay Pyi Taw International Airport is modern and passengers can enter the airport easily and comfortably,' Nay Lin, project director of Asia World, was quoted as saying by the paper.

'The airport will be... equipped with all necessary modern decorations and machines (that) an international airport should have,' he added.

The paper did not give details on the cost of the construction.

Myanmar has been ruled by the military since 1962. The ruling junta built the new administrative capital in central Myanmar in 2002. The junta moved all ministries to the capital in 2005.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

THAI bookings slump 20% in ten days


Published on April 24, 2009

Thai Airways International has witnessed a 20-per-cent drop in bookings since the government imposed a state of emergency on April 13, a move that has scared away Asian tourists - mostly from China, South Korea and Japan.

Acting president Narongsak Sangapong said yesterday that this factor, coupled with the global economic crisis that has depleted the number of tourists from Europe, meant THAI's cabin factor for the period March to May had fallen to as low as 75-76 per cent, against 85-90 per cent in the same period last year.

"The state of emergency should be revoked as soon as possible to reduce the negative impact on the tourism industry," he said.

He added that THAI would try to win back business by joining hands with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and private operators in launching joint promotions aimed at attracting visitors to the Kingdom in the second half of the year.

Attorney-General Chaikasem Nitisiri, vice chairman of the airline, said that despite the violence on Songkran Day, THAI still maintained its goal of posting a net profit of Bt4 billion this year.

"Luckily, the violence was diffused quickly. The situation should not get worse if the airport is not shut down again," he said. THAI has claimed damage of Bt20 billion as a result of Suvarnabhumi Airport's 10-day shutdown late last year.

The airline suffered a net loss of Bt21 billion last year, due largely to the political conflict, spiking jet-fuel prices and Bt4.29 billion set aside against possible damage from antitrust and competition cases in the United States, the European Union, New Zealand, Australia and South Korea.

Niruj Maneepun, vice president for THAI's legal department, yesterday said he expected the EU case to wind up before the others, probably late this year. Meanwhile, US passengers are being enlisted for a class-action lawsuit, which will take time before the case goes to court.

He said the reserves of Bt4.29 billion were based on initial penalties that THAI would have to pay if it lost cases involving surcharges. The carrier has set aside Bt807 million as legal fees, of which it has already spent Bt70 million.

The national carrier's shareholders at an eight-hour meeting on Wednesday appointed 13 directors, including Finance Ministry permanent secretary Suparut Kawatkul.

The nomination of Suparut angered some minor shareholders, who said he should be disqualified following the National Anti-Corruption Commission's recent confirmation of an earlier ruling that he had violated civil-service rules.

However, Chaikasem insisted that despite the NACC ruling, no action had yet been taken against Suparut and he therefore remained qualified for the directorship.

Other directors include Surachai Tansitpong, permanent secretary of the Transport Ministry, Wallop Bhukkanasut and Banyong Pongpanich.

Chaikasem added that the new board would convene as soon as possible to appoint a chairman. The first meeting agenda could also include the airline's medium- and long-term business-improvement plan, which entails restructuring.

It is also anticipated that THAI will welcome a new president by then. Narongsak said that within two weeks, it should be known who among the 11 applicants would be the new incumbent.

In his capacity as acting president, Narongsak will next week submit the business-improvement plan to a UK financial institution, with a view to tapping funds to ease THAI's liquidity shortage.

Aviation industry remains in crisis as air travel and cargo dip

Kuala Lumpur - International passenger volume and demand for air cargo were down again in March, as airlines were warned that an end to the industry crisis was nowhere in sight, the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) said Friday. Asia-Pacific airlines carried a total of 11.2 million passengers in March, a drop of 10.8 per cent from March 2008, while air cargo volumes dropped by 21.9 per cent. Demand for premium services remained weak, as companies across the globe seek to cut costs such as travel expenses, the association's director-general Andrew Herdman said in a statement. "Whilst the crisis confronting the industry remains acute, traffic levels do seem to be stabilising, even though there is, as yet, no sign of any uptick in demand that might signal the beginnings of a recovery process," Herdman said. March's figures reflect a continued trend of dropping demand in air passenger and cargo volume frim last year, when AAPA's 17-member airlines recorded 141.5 million passengers, a 1.8-per-cent drop from the year before, and a 6.1-per-cent dip in air cargo.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Delta Opens Office in Vietnam, Posted: Apr 22, 2009 Review it on NewsTrust

Delta Airlines has opened an office here in preparation for the launch of a daily service between the United States and Ho Chi Minh City.

Starting June 1, Delta will fly between HCM and its Tokyo hub, where passengers can make connections to nine U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Detroit, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco.

Sarathool Monthienvi-chienchai, Delta Air Lines’ general manager in Vietnam, said that since the Los Angeles area is home to the largest Vietnamese population in the United States, ''the new service is expected to appeal to the growing Vietnamese market.''

Delta Airlines also appointed the East Sea Travel & Air Service Group as its general sales agent for passengers, and Indo Trans Logistics company for cargo in Vie├Ąt Nam.

United Airlines is the only U.S. carrier that flies to Vietnam now, with a daily service between San Francisco and HCM via Hong Kong.

Cambodian black box from crash will not be released

Officials: Black box from crash will not be released

The Phnom Penh Post

Written by Kay Kimsong
Thursday, 23 April 2009

Crash of PMT airliner in Kampot province in 2007 resulted in the deaths of 22, including Cambodian crew and 17 Korean nationals.

A REPORT detailing data collected from the black box of a 2007 flight that crashed in Kampot province will not be released to the public, officials at the State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA) told the Post Wednesday.

A Russian-made Antonov An-24 aircraft operated by PMT Air crashed in June 2007, killing 22 passengers, including Cambodian crew and 17 South Korean nationals. South Korean media reported in 2007 that the crash was caused by pilot error, citing a recording of the final conversation between the pilot and the control tower. Cambodian officials have blamed the crash on a combination of bad weather conditions and pilot error, a position reiterated Wednesday by Khim Sophoan, a secretary of state for the SSCA.


A team of Cambodian investigators travelled to Moscow last year to analyse the black box data. The report that resulted from that trip has been released to aviation inspectors and relevant government ministries and victims' families, said PMT President Sar Sareth.

Khim Sophoan, who was part of the investigation team, said the visual and audio data obtained from the black box indicated the crash was caused by a storm as well as the pilots' decision to deviate from the designated flight path. Khim Sophoan and Sar Sareth said Wednesday that the crash was not the result of mechanical failure.

Kao Sivorn, the director of flight operation for the SSCA, said the decision not to release the report to the public was made in accordance with regulations outlined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, a UN agency that codifies international aviation procedures. Eng Sour Sdey, a government adviser who deals with civil aviation, also cited international regulations in explaining the decision not to release the report.

"In general, they never release the results of such an investigation, even to government officials such as myself," Eng Sour Sdey said, adding that he was allowed access to the black box data only one time last year.

Mao Havannall, a secretary of state at the SSCA, told the Post on Monday that he would chair a meeting in Phnom Penh this week that would bring together lawyers of the victims, airline officials and insurance company representatives to resolve the issue of compensation for the victims' families. No compensation has yet been paid.

He said those affected by the crash had the right to claim compensation in light of revelations that pilot error might have contributed to the crash.

But Sar Sareth said the amount requested by each of the South Korean families - which he said was between US$500,000 and $1 million in each case - was "too much".

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Saudi's fury after aircraft is seized in Paris

PLANE ANGER: Saudia officials are furious after one of its rented aircraft was seized by bailiffs in Paris.

Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia) has said that the seizure of one of its rented aircraft over a financial dispute could affect the continuation of its flights to France.

The Saudia Boeing 777-200 was seized at Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris in a legal dispute over a $2 million debt with Eagle Aviation.

Airport sources said the airliner was seized on Friday after its arrival from Riyadh by bailiffs acting on instructions from the Saint Nazaire commercial tribunal in the west of France, Saudi Gazette reported on Tuesday.

Eagle Aviation, an aircraft leasing firm based in Saint Nazaire, alleges that it is owed $2 million for providing the aircraft.

But Saudia’s top official has hit back, saying that his company would ask for more from Eagle Aviation.

“Saudi Arabian Airlines, in fact, is demanding much more amounts than what Eagle Aviation is claiming,” Saudia director general Khaled Al-Mulheim told the paper.

“We say that after they declined to make the regular adjustments on these amounts.”

He said he was surprised to hear of the seizure which he claimed was illegal according to Saudia's lawyer.

“After the French company’s bankruptcy, the authority appointed by the French court arbitrarily obtained a warrant to seize one of our planes, without paying attention to our rights or even informing us,” he said.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Names of Mimika Air passengers confirmed dead

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Mon, 04/20/2009 8:25 AM | National

All passengers of the Pilatus Porter plane owned by Mimika Air are confirmed dead after the plane crashed into Gergaji Mountain in Ilaga, Papua, on Friday.

According to Timika Air Base commander Leutenant Colonel Easter Haryanto, the bodies would be recovered as of today.

"The remains of the plane have been found at location. Around 20 to 30 local residents have gathered around 200 meters from the plane," Haryanto said, as quoted by on Monday.

He added that the nose of the plane was charred and that the right wing was broken.

The names of the passengers dead are Marten Djitmau, Puncakjaya Election Commission (KPU) secretary, Rev. Melkias Kiwak, Herman Senanfi, Puncakjaya Election Observer Committee chairman, Welem Ayaua, Lasarus Wonda, Rubin and Emina Murib and child, Capten Nay Linn Aung of Myanmar, Co-Pilot Makmur Susilo, and Puncakjaya KPU member Irwan Patadang.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Southeast Asia Airfare Specials

AirAsia has discounted rates to Thai cities. Singapore to Bangkok costs S$52 (US$34.70) and Singapore to Siem Reap costs S$44 (US$29.30). Booking deadline is April 26 for trips between May 5 and July 31.

AirAsia X has introduced £399 (US$586.90) one-way Business Class fare between London Stansted and Kuala Lumpur for booking until April 26 and travel between May 5 and July 29.

Jetstar cuts rates on its Thailand flights. Singapore to Bangkok costs S$80 (US$53.30) and Singapore to Siem Reap costs S$85 (US$56.60). The offer is valid until April 19 for travel between May 1 and October 31. It is also teaming up with Brussels Airlines in a code share to add the European cities of Marseille, Toulouse, Geneva and Vienna to its existing international network.

Korean Air has lowered prices by 30 percent on flights between Hanoi and destinations in Europe and North America via Seoul until June. Passengers spending more than nine hours in transit will also receive free accommodation.

Tiger Airways is flying one-way to Bangkok and Phuket for S$55 (US$36.70) and S$50 (US$33.30) respectively. Promotion lasts until April 21 and passengers can travel between May 1 and October 24.

The Singapore-based airline also launched A$30 (US$22) offers for domestic flights to anywhere in Australia for booking until April 21. Passengers fly between May 1 and 31.

There are also special prices for international flights out of Perth. Flights to Singapore cost A$139 (US$101.25), flights to Bangkok cost A$175 (US$127.50), flights to Kuala Lumpur cost A$148 (US$107.80), flights to Macau cost A$258 (US$188), flights to Ho Chi Minh city cost A$195 (US$142) flights to Manila cost A$225 (US$163.90) and flights to Chennai cost A$319 (US$232.40).

United Airlines
will charge severely overweight travellers for two seats. This applies for all UA flights and will only apply for full flights. Passengers who require more space may purchase an extra seat using Mileage Plus miles.

Joshua Tan

Friday, April 17, 2009

Indonesia to shut down all airlines with under 10 planes

April 14, 2009

Indonesia will shut down all airlines that do not have at least 10 planes by 2012, a Transportation Ministry official says.

The new regulation is part of efforts to improve the country's safety record following a string of deadly accidents including a Garuda Indonesia plane crash at Yogyakarta airport in March 2007 that killed 21 people, including five Australians.

The new rules were signed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono earlier this year.

Commercial passenger airliners have three years to meet the requirement, Yurlis Hasibuan, the Transportation Ministry's air certification director told The Associated Press on Monday.

At least five planes must be fully owned by a company and the rest can be leased, he said. Those that can't comply must shut down, merge with other airlines or provide only charter services.

Indonesia started deregulating its airline industry in the late 1990s, bringing cheap air travel to the sprawling island nation.

But weak regulation and poor maintenance have led to fatal accidents that have killed more than 120 people in recent years, prompting the European Union to ban all Indonesian carriers from landing there in 2007.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

USS John C. Stennis crew in Pattaya Thailand

PATTAYA, Thailand (April 11, 2009) Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 1st Class Daniel Brandau, from Osage, Iowa embarked aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), plays music from his cell phone for a blind student during a community service project at the Pattaya Redemptorist School for the Blind. John C. Stennis is in Laem Chabang, Thailand for a scheduled port visit during a six-month deployment to the western Pacific Ocean. (US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dmitry Chepusov/Released) 090411-N-9610C-095

Stennis Visits Children at School for the Blind in Thailand
Story Number: NNS090413-11
Release Date: 4/13/2009 3:12:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dmitry Chepusov

PATTAYA, Thailand (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) volunteered 66 community service hours to clean a school and deliver lunch to students at Pattaya Redemptorist School for the Blind in Pattaya, Thailand, April 11.

Service members split up into two groups. One group cleaned courtyards, classrooms and playgrounds. The other group took a walk on a nearby beach with some of the students.

"Our visit put smiles on faces," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate Equipment 1st Class (AW) Daniel Brandau of Osage, Iowa, who accompanied a blind student named Jorsor on the walk.

"I didn't know how to communicate with him, so I played music from my cell phone, and I think he really liked it," said Brandau.

Brandau said he did not know what was expected of him when he arrived at the school, but he enjoyed the opportunity to spend time with the students.

The Sailors and Marine donated 50 lunch packs to share with the students, after the school was cleaned and the students returned from their walk down the beach.
To show their gratitude, some of the students sang folk Thai songs for Stennis personnel.

The Pattaya Redemtorist School for the Blind was one of five community service projects undertaken by the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group while in Thailand. The community service projects are seen as a mission during the strike group's Western Pacific deployment.

"We're part of the international community," said Program Specialist 2nd Class Pablo Monroy, strike group community relations coordinator. "This is our mission, and helping people on the front lines is how we show our support to that community."

For more news from USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), visit

Hong Kong airline halves pay for pilots as slump hits flights

Hong Kong - In a sign of the worsening impact of the global slump on Asia’s aviation industry, pilots with a Hong Kong airline said Monday they had been fired for not accepting drastic pay cuts. The pilots - four first officers and five captains - say they were sacked by Hong Kong Airlines after declining new contracts that cut their basic salaries to as little as 2,250 US dollars a month.

A spokesman for the airline, which employed 52 pilots before the sackings, confirmed the dismissals but denied they were connected to the new contracts. He declined to say why the pilots had been sacked.

However, the move comes amid severe cost-cutting at the start-up airline, which operates Boeing 737 aircraft on regional flights. Earlier this year it asked all cockpit crew to take a week’s unpaid leave.

The new contract cuts basic salaries for first officers to between 17,500 Hong Kong dollars (2,258 US dollars) and 22,500 Hong Kong dollars a month and for captains from 30,000 Hong Kong dollars to 40,000 Hong Kong dollars, according to a copy seen by the German News Agency dpa.

In addition to their basic pay, all pilots receive a monthly market-based adjustment lump sum of 10,000 Hong Kong dollars and a possible bonus based on monthly flying hours of up to 1,000 Hong Kong dollars.

According to one of the sacked pilots, basic monthly pay for captains previously ranged from 65,000 to 75,000 Hong Kong dollars and 40,000 to 45,000 for first officers.

“We declined to sign the new contract and wrote to the management saying we wished to stay on our present contracts,” the pilot said. “There was no response. Everybody who did not sign the new contract was simply terminated.”

Letters were sent out to the nine pilots on April 2 telling them they were being terminated and wishing them all the best for the future without giving any reason for the sackings, according to another of the dismissed pilots.

The sackings come after Hong Kong’s biggest airline Cathay Pacific in March announced a record 1.1-billion-US-dollars annual loss for 2008 and asked its pilots and cabin crew to take unpaid leave. (dpa)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bizjets in SE Asia

Times may be hard but Indian business honchos still need to travel, extensively, fast and free of the logistical hassles of commercial flights.
Could a private aviation revolution be round the corner? Yes, says Mark Baier, CEO of Bjets, an aviation operator flying in South-east Asia. And the way ahead may be lined with timeshare arrangements for planes.

“India has less than 200 private jets, a tiny fraction compared to 11,000 in US and 3,000 in Europe. But these could double in a couple of years with more players coming in. We expect over 70% of our revenues to come from India,” says Baier.

But what of all those cancelled deliveries of private jets, each worth some $30-35 million? Ann Cossette of Bombardier Business Aircraft, says, “The increase in the number of order cancellations are mainly due to the limited availability of financing for our customers.”

This is why international private plane operators are now offering the next best thing, ‘own’ your own plane by buying the number of hours you need in it. Though domestic operators like Club One Air have been doing this since 2005, there are hardly any international players who can fly clients on a timeshare, say from India to Europe.

Friday, April 10, 2009

John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group Visits Thailand

LAEM CHABANG, Thailand -- John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) arrived in Laem Chabang, Thailand April 9 for a scheduled port visit during its western Pacific Ocean deployment.

The strike group supports maritime security in the region and promotes regional partnerships through joint operations and community service projects during port visits with host nations. 

“We appreciate the people of Thailand allowing us to visit this beautiful port,” said Rear Adm. Mark Vance, Commander, Carrier Strike Group 3. “Our Sailors are looking forward to the opportunity to explore this magnificent region.”

The United States Maritime Strategy focuses on joint and international partnerships across a range of operations through forward presence, deterrence, freedom of the world’s sea lanes, maritime security and humanitarian assistance/disaster response.

JCSCSG includes Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, comprising Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 71, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 8, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 146, Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 323, Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 138, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 112 and Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30. JCSCSG also includes ships from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21, including the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Kidd (DDG 100) and USS Preble (DDG 88) and the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54).


The USS John C. Stennis, after participating with the South Korean Navy in a large joint exercise last month, has moved on to Southeast Asia.

The Bremerton-based aircraft carrier and its strike group arrived in Laem Chabang, Thailand, on Thursday for a scheduled port visit, according to a news release from the ship.

"We appreciate the people of Thailand for allowing us to visit this beautiful port," said Rear Adm. Mark Vance, the strike group commander. "Our sailors are looking forward to the opportunity to explore this magnificent region."

The Stennis, which left Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton on Jan. 13, is on a six-month deployment to the western Pacific Ocean.

Kingfisher Air delays Thai plan


Published: 9/04/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Business

Kingfisher Air clips Bangkok's wingsIndia's Kingfisher Airlines has delayed its debut flights to Bangkok planned for this month, citing aircraft availability constraints.

The five-star carrier planned to offer daily services from its base in Bangalore to Bangkok in March, using Airbus A321 jetliners. But it was split between mobilising its capacity to support the growing home market, or to expand internationally, eventually opting for the former, an insider said.

The carrier began flights on five new new domestic routes _ between Mumbai and Vadodara, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad-Bhubaneswar, Hyderabad-Aurangabad and Bangalore-Kozhikode _ on March 29.

Kingfisher remains keen to launch regular services to Thailand, though these are likely to be delayed until late-October. Flights will link Bangkok with Mumbai, instead of Bangalore, and later with Kolkata, the air-traffic routes between Thailand and India.

The uncertainty has put Success Aviation, Kingfisher's general sales agent in Bangkok, and Bangkok Flight Services, which was contracted to provide ground services at Suvarnabhumi, in limbo.

Dubai faces similar uncertainty after the carrier recently delayed services between the two countries by three months.

Kingfisher had been operating for just three years when it launched its maiden international flight between Bangalore and London in September 2008.

The carrier's initial schedule between India and Thailand was seen as unappealing, as flights would depart Suvarnabhumi after midnight.

Thailand's air traffic tumbles in February


Published: 7/04/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Business

Passenger traffic through Thailand's six main airports tumbled further in February with a 20.6% year-on-year contraction due to a continued slowdown in travel demand caused by the global recession and domestic political problems.

The fall was steeper than in the preceding month when numbers shrank by 15.9%, while the outlook for March is for a continued drop as the recession deepens and domestic political conflicts escalated.

Combined passenger throughput, including Suvarnabhumi Airport, was 4.25 million in February. There were 2.62 million international passengers, a fall of 21.5% from the same period last year, and 1.63 million domestic passengers, a decrease of 19%.

Total aircraft movements also recorded a steep plunge of 19.4% in February - down to 27,515. The month saw domestic journeys slip by 23.1% to 11,856 while international flights contracted 16.4% to 15,659.

Total flights over the month also fell more steeply than in January. The earlier month saw movements slip 14.3% to 31,239 as impacts from the closure of Bangkok's two main airports in late November and early December continued to be felt, according to figures from Airports of Thailand Plc.

Cumulative January and February passenger throughput was 18.2% lower year-on-year at 8.93 million, consisting of 5.45 million international travellers (down 19.7%) and 3.48 million domestic passengers (down 15.6%).

Flight movements for January and February contracted 16.8% to 58,574.

Officials hope the final figures for 2009 will be at last year's levels of 54.4 million passengers and 371,560 flights.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thailand's One-Two-Go added to EU flight ban

By | Apr 08, 2009

The European Union banned all Benin- based airlines, six Kazakh carriers, a Thai operator and a fourth Ukrainian one from flying in the bloc under the latest changes to a list of unsafe carriers.

The 27-nation EU said the ban on all airlines certified in the western African country of Benin is justified by the “negative results” of an audit by the International Civil Aviation Organization. The other newly barred carriers are Kazakhstan’s Air Company Kokshetau, ATMA Airlines, Berkut Air, East Wing, Sayat Air and Starline KZ, Thailand’s One-Two-Go Airlines and Ukraine’s Motor Sich Airlines, according to the EU.

This is the tenth update of a blacklist first drawn up by the European Commission in March 2006 with more than 90 airlines mainly from Africa. The ban already covers carriers from nations including Angola, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Rwanda, Indonesia and North Korea.

“Air passengers are entitled to feel safe and be safe,” EU Transport Commissioner Antonio Tajani said in a statement today in Brussels. All carriers must “conform to internationally required levels of air safety.”

Airline crashes in 2004 and 2005 that killed hundreds of European travelers prompted EU governments to seek a uniform approach to airline safety through a common blacklist. The list, updated at least four times a year, is based on deficiencies found during checks at European airports, the use of antiquated aircraft by companies and shortcomings by non-EU airline regulators.

Operational Ban

In addition to imposing an operational ban in Europe, the blacklist can act as a guide for travelers worldwide and influence safety policies in non-EU countries. Nations that are home to carriers with poor safety records can ground them to avoid being put on the EU list, while countries keen to keep out unsafe foreign airlines can use the European list as a guide for their own bans.

With the latest changes, Benin becomes the ninth country where all the local airlines face the EU ban. The other eight nations are Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Indonesia, the Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Swaziland.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Thailand's air traffic tumbles in February

Published: 7/04/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: Business

Passenger traffic through Thailand's six main airports tumbled further in February with a 20.6% year-on-year contraction due to a continued slowdown in travel demand caused by the global recession and domestic political problems.

The fall was steeper than in the preceding month when numbers shrank by 15.9%, while the outlook for March is for a continued drop as the recession deepens and domestic political conflicts escalated.

Combined passenger throughput, including Suvarnabhumi Airport, was 4.25 million in February. There were 2.62 million international passengers, a fall of 21.5% from the same period last year, and 1.63 million domestic passengers, a decrease of 19%.

Total aircraft movements also recorded a steep plunge of 19.4% in February - down to 27,515. The month saw domestic journeys slip by 23.1% to 11,856 while international flights contracted 16.4% to 15,659.

Total flights over the month also fell more steeply than in January. The earlier month saw movements slip 14.3% to 31,239 as impacts from the closure of Bangkok's two main airports in late November and early December continued to be felt, according to figures from Airports of Thailand Plc.

Cumulative January and February passenger throughput was 18.2% lower year-on-year at 8.93 million, consisting of 5.45 million international travellers (down 19.7%) and 3.48 million domestic passengers (down 15.6%).

Flight movements for January and February contracted 16.8% to 58,574.

Officials hope the final figures for 2009 will be at last year's levels of 54.4 million passengers and 371,560 flights.

Royal Thai Air Force Museum & Khao San Road

The Type 10 (Hawk 3), a fighter aircraft, played a significant role

during the Indochina War. This is only one of its kind remaining in the world today
The Royal Thai Air Force museum was set up in 1952 with the purpose

of collecting and restoring defense articles of different periods including equipments

 and aircraft in use during the early period of Thai aviation history up

to the present. The RTAF museum was first located at a hangar west

of Don Muang airfield and was not opened to public until 27 March 1959.

 The present musem was constructed in 1968 at a total cost of 6,635,000 Bahts.

 The museum was officially opened to the public on 24 January 1969.

The exhibits at the Royal Thai Air Force museum feature many types of aircraft rarely

 found anywhere else in the world. Many of the were in the service during the war

and  played a vital role in the safeguarding of our nation’s independence.

The numerous victory Medals awarded to the RTAF pilots attest to

 the bravery and valour of our heroes. The Royal Thai Air Force

 has tried to develop its museum to ensure that it has complete historical records of

 the Royal Thai Air Force.

Hours of operation :
weekdays / weekends 09.00-16.00 hrs. except holidays

Buses Available:
Buses no. 34, 39, 114, 356
Air Conditioned Buses no. 3, 21, 22, 25, 34, 39, 114, 356

Khao San Road

Where the worlds young travellers meet.

Khao San Road is a favourite crossroads for the young travellers on a budget.

It has evolved over the last two decades from just one small

 hostel providing low-budget accommodation become one of the worlds

most well-known destinations. It has been featured in many movies and television documentaries.

During the day, Khao San Road is the scene for back-packers looking for

a cheap room while others are arranging transport to their next destination

 in Thailand or overseas. Some will be just chatting with friends over a cup of coffee or a bowl of noodles.

At night, it turns into a lively thoroughfare lined with street stalls selling cheap clothes,

 handicrafts, souvenirs and thousands of other items. The lights are

on at the many bars where the travellers tell tales of the days adventures

and discoveries and the plans for tomorrow. Khao San Road is not just for foreign travellers,

 many young Thai people like to hang out there, including members of the TV and film production industries.

The location is very convenient for visiting the many tourist attractions

on Rattanakosin Island. It is just a 10-minute walk to Sanam Luang and The Grand Palace.

During April when Thais celebrate the Songkran Festival,

Khao San Road becomes a fun-filled battleground as everyone,

Thais and foreigners indulge in splashing each other with water.

The area is also well-known for the wide variety of inexpensive food.

 This ranges from spicy Thai Tom Yum Gung soup to the ever-popular banana pancake.

How to get there : Bus routes 3, 9, 32, 64, 39, 44, 53, 59, 503, 509, 511

Bangkok Airways adds the third flight to Phnom Penh

Bangkok Airways will launch its third daily flight between Bangkok and Phnom Penh, in order to provide convenience for mid-day traffics between the two capitals.

Starting from March 29 onwards, the launch will be made in conjunction with the change of aircraft type to dual-class Airbus 319 featuring the airline’s new business class - Blue Ribbon Class (BRC) - on all flights servicing this route.

 Bangkok Airways to add third daily flight to Phnom Penh with the Blue Ribbon Class

Bangkok Airways to add third daily flight to Phnom Penh with the Blue Ribbon Class

The additional flight, From Bangkok, PG 933 departs at 13.30 hrs. arrives Phnom Penh at 14.40 hrs. and PG 934 departs from Phnom Penh at 15.30 hrs with the arrival time in Bangkok at 16.40 hrs. The Airbus 319 has a capacity of 108 seats in the economy class and 12 recliner seats with private monitor in the BRC.

Beginning such date, Bangkok Airways will be operating three daily flights as follows.

PG 931 Bangkok - Phnom Penh 0740 - 0850 // PG 932 Phnom Penh - Bangkok 0940 - 1050

PG 933 Bangkok - Phnom Penh 1330 - 1440 // PG 934 Phnom Penh - Bangkok 1530 - 1640

PG 935 Bangkok - Phnom Penh 1800 - 1910 // PG 936 Phnom Penh - Bangkok 2000 - 2110

Promotional Business class fare for Bangkok - Phnom Penh (R/T) is 9,900 Baht. (Starts from 29 March to 30 June 2009) The fare is exclusive of Airport taxes, Fuel Surcharge and Insurance.

The privileges for BRC passengers includes exclusive BRC check-in counter, 40 kilograms baggage allowance, BRC lounge access, priority boarding, priority baggage claim, and fast track immigration service.

Continued here:
Bangkok Airways adds the third flight to Phnom Penh

A Brief Look at China’s Current Air Capabilities

In the past few years, The People’s Republic of China’s growing military capability has attracted a great deal of interest, but major details regarding China’s near-future military strength have been hard to come by. At this moment, China is spending massive amounts of financial resources in order to improve its overall military capability. This spike of budgetary expenses by China is setup in the background of the country’s need to upgrade its low-tech arsenal. Current reports have placed the number of deployable nuclear weapons the country possesses at four hundred. Of these, around twenty are deployed in the Intercontinental ballistic missile configuration. Nearly two hundred and twenty of them are reported to be deployed in various delivery platforms such as aircraft, submarines and short-to-medium range missile systems. All of these weapons are of tactical capability. The remaining weapons are believed to be held in tactical reserves for short range missiles, low yield attacks and demolition purposes.

The country has several delivery systems for their ever growing nuckear stockpile. The main component of the system is the Dong-Feng 5 liquid-fuelled missile, with an estimated range of 13,000 km and can carry a single use, multi-megaton warhead. The Dong-Feng 5 was first deployed in the summer of 1981 and has remained the backbone of China’s ICBM force for the past two decades. Twenty, frontline Feng 5’s are believed to be stationed in full alert somewhere in central regions of the country. The Feng 5 was a drastic departure from the early versions of China’s ballistic missiles systems. Those early missiles were mainly stored in caves and were rolled-out for launch. The Feng 5 can be launched from vertical silos after just a few hours of the order being received by their launch crews. The Feng 5 operational range give China the capability to launch a small nuclear attack against most of Continental Europe, Asia and some parts of the United States, mainly the southeast part of the country. Today, two additional missile platforms are deployed or being tested for possible deployment. They are the medium range DF 31’s, which entered first-line operation in 2005, and its long range variant, the DF 31A, formerly called the DF-41; which is expected to be fielded by late 2010. Both missiles are going to be propelled by solid fuel cells and based on mobile launchers. China is expected to attempt producing a multiple re-entry vehicle (MVRs) for their new missile systems. An attempt to produce the more technical challenge multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) is underway.

China also deploys intermediate range ballistic missiles and medium range ballistic missile systems. These weapon platforms are capable of threatening the security of many countries in Asia, including India, but its effects on the overall strategic security of Russia are minimal. China’s intermediate missile systems are also capable of hitting targets on Japan’s coastal cities and United States bases in South Korea and Japan. The oldest missile platform deployed by China is the “near stationary” DF 3A missile system. This platform is being phased-out in favor of the more modern DF 4 and DF 21 systems. The DF 4, with a maximum operating range of 4,750 km, is still the backbone of China’s regional deterrence force. The DF 4 is a liquid fueled system that operates mainly now out of fixed launch sites. With the deployment of the DF 21 in 1986, China’s regional ballistic missile capabilities increased twofold. The operational DF 21 has an estimated range of 1,800km and is carried in mobile launchers for security reasons. The DF 21 is also the base of China’s sea-launch ballistic missile systems. The older, liquid fueled missiles can carry a single nuclear warhead of an estimate 3.3mt yield. The newest missiles also carry a single warhead with maximum yields in the hundreds kilotons range. China also possesses a limited number of short-range ballistic missile batteries. The DF 11/M 11, with an operational range of 300km, and the DF 15/M 9, with a range of 600km, are the backbone of China’s tactical force. Its believed that most of these missile platforms are configured to carry only a small nuclear or conventional warhead.

China’s bomber force is based on the local production of Russian made aircraft first deployed in the early stages of the 1950s. With the overdue retirement of the Ilyushin IL-28 bomber from front-line, nuclear delivery role, the Tu-16 Badger will most likely assume the role of a medium range, nuclear strike bomber. Being a product of the 1950s technology, the Tu-16 could only carry two or three nuclear bombs over a range of 1,5,00 to 3,100km. China is believed to have over 130 of these vintage planes in operational conditions. The Chinese Navy also operated the Tu-16 in a reserve role primarily. Although the Chinese Air Force possesses a great number of other possible nuclear carrying aircraft, such as the venerable MiG-21, the Russian supplied Su-27, and the newly designed JH-7s; they are not believed to be used for such a role. The Chinese Air Force also has a large inventory of strike and fighter aircraft at their disposal. It is estimated that by 2004 China has a total aircraft inventory of around 4,200 operational aircraft of many types. This inventory includes all the variants of the J-6 or MiG-19 fighter, J-7 or MiG-21, Su-27, IL-28 and Tu 16 bombers. Of these aircraft, the vast majority entered service with the Chinese air force before 1970. The tactical airlift aspect of the air force is at a diminishing capability. Over the last two decades, Chinese leaders have stressed the development of a localized aerospace industry sector capable of designing and developing advanced avionics needed for military aircraft. Despite the investment of large amounts of budgetary and human resources, the Chinese had not shown the ability to promptly design, develop and mass produce an indigenous combat aircraft. The recently revealed J-7, and the J-8, both of which took so long in their developmental stages that by the time they were ready to enter front-line services they were already obsolete by Western standards, showed China the need for more investment in financial and human resources as well as the training of experienced technicians to work in all aspects of the technical design of a combat aircraft. The same holds true of the most vaunted of China’s aircraft developments, the J-10.

China is not alone in this area, other countries had tried in the past to design and mass-produce indigenous aircraft systems, most notable Israel, South Africa, India, Taiwan and south Korea; all abandoned their programs in favor of purchasing existing and proved aircraft types from the five largest weapons producers: the United States, Russia, Great Britain, France and Germany. The main reason is the fact that the economic resources needed, not only to design a generation-leaping aircraft, but to be mass produced for local consume, are so massive that developing countries with a small industrial base simply can not afford to spend the necessary resources for a long period of time. This also holds true of large economies with a small gross national product output such as Russia, which is lagging far behind the Western countries in military technology designs. As a direct result of their failure to establish a permanent industrial base capable of producing front-line aircraft, China has renewed its imports of combat airplanes from Russia.

The reality is that China is investing massive amounts of money to modernize its armed forces, but the current force structure is so old and that the rate of retirement will surpass the rate of acquisition in all major weapon platform systems. This fact means that China overall military force would decrease in size. Aircrafts and missile systems would decrease in numbers. Also, the modernization process is slow due to the massive investment needed to accomplish it. China is also adding a small number of new technology weapon systems to its overall arsenal. New weapon platforms are purchased in small quantities, which can not dramatically alter the balance of power. China current acquisitions of Russian systems are not as impressive as they might look. Those systems are not comparable to the ones fielded by the United States or Japan. The main problem of China’s militarization might be their inability to produce a continuous indigenous weapon industry to produce next-generation military technology. Which could be used on their existing or newest systems? The recent reversal of policy from the Chinese government, from developing its own weapon systems to purchasing systems, mainly from Russia and Israel; has left the government in Peking without control over the military they so desperately desire. For the foreseeable future, China’s potential military action, mainly against Taiwan, is limited, let alone branching out of the regional setting they are now. Overall, the balance of air power in East Asia would remain the same for the next fifteen years.

1 John W. Lewis and Hua di, China’s Ballistic Missile Programs: Technologies, Strategies, Goals, International Security, Original: July 1997 - Updated December 2006.
2 Jeffrey Lewis, The Ambiguous Arsenal, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist, May-June 2003.
3 Bill Gertz, China Advances Missile Program, Washington Times, June 22, 2005.
4 NTI and The Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, China Profile: Nuclear Capabilities, Nuclear Treaty Initiative, Fall 2003.

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