Flyers could soon be allowed to use their phones in-flight in China. Pic: Unsplash

Plane passengers in China could soon be allowed to use their phones in-flight

BOTH travelers and businesses in China will be pleased to learn that restrictive regulations on the use of mobile phones on planes could soon be lifted.

Plane passengers currently face strict rules while in flight. A¬†draft amendment to the country’s Civil Aviation Law could cost disobedient passengers up to US$7,515 (50,000 yuan) for a number of offences, including using mobile phones.

However, Bloomberg reported that the director of air transportation in the Civil Administration of China, Zhu Tao, said in an interview that a legislation to amend the regulation is a work in progress and will be loosened by the end of 2016 or early next year.

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In 2013, regulators in U.S. and Europe revised safety standards regarding the use of mobile phones on planes and determined that as long as passengers follow on-board procedures, there will be no compromise on safety.

Although some Chinese airlines provide in-flight WiFi, the country’s lag in keeping up with international regulations means that only 23 percent of airlines in China provide connectivity, compared to 78 percent of airlines in the U.S.

A report by the China Internet Network Information Center found that over 90 percent of all internet users in China (656 million people) use their mobile phones to browse the Internet.

Businesses are already preparing themselves in case the amendment does go through, as the use of mobile phones becomes a potential point of revenue.

Airlines have already begun sizing up the market for in-flight sales and advertising. According to Frost & Sullivan, the global market for in-flight e-commerce is expected to reach US$1.7 billion by 2020, from US$1.4 billion in 2015.

Zhang Chi, a deputy director at the country’s second largest airline, China Eastern, told Bloomberg that the policy review will be a “breakthrough” for businesses to advertise and sell online while passengers are mid-flight.