China’s civil aviation capacity to rise by 43% to 2 billion passenger trips within 5 years

Photo taken on July 30, 2020 shows that passengers walk at Beijing Daxing International Airport. Photo by Fan Jiashan/People’s Daily Online

As the year 2021 marks the beginning of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), industries make their plans in line with the country’s development. The civil aviation sector is aiming to increase capacity, accelerate airport construction and the integration with other transportations including railways, highways and waterways.


China will open above 30 new civil airports and the civil aviation capacity will increase by 43 percent to 2 billion passenger trips as scheduled under the 14th Five-Year Plan, said Wang Zhiqing, Deputy Minister of Transport, at a press conference on Wednesday.


China recorded a total of 241 certificated airports at the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) with a transportation capacity of 1.4 billion passenger trips. During the last five-year plan period, China set up and relocated 43 civil airports, according to statistics released by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) on Wednesday.


Expansion and new airports

The civil aviation regulator also disclosed that airport hubs in China will be expanded, including Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport in South China’s Guangdong Province. New airports will be seen in Xiamen, East China’s Fujian Province and Hohhot in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.


“The scale of new airports listed in the 14th Five-Year Plan is relatively large. Over the past 10 years, airports with sufficient capacity have been built one after another. In the future, the construction demand and growth speed of large airports will decrease, while the construction of small feeder airports will be the direction of civil aviation infrastructure investment,” a Shanghai-based investor surnamed Cheng, told the Global Times on Thursday.


Airports that mainly serve as bases for regional airlines will be boosted during the next five years with construction plan in third-tier cities such as Shuozhou in North China’s Shanxi Province, Jiaxing in East China’s Zhejiang Province, Ruijin in East China’s Jiangxi Province and Aral in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.


Recognizing the convenience brought to passengers living in remote areas by short-haul air routes, CAAC will encourage regional airlines to increase capacity and upgrade flight networks. Regional airlines which run flights connecting small and medium airports that have passenger flow below 2 million will be eligible for subsidies.


CAAC revised interim procedures of subsidy administration on small airports in 2020 and raised the subsidy standards by 40 percent to airports located in places where ground traffic is poor. Those airports could get more financial supports from aviation regulators.


The admission restrictions of regional air routes to airport hubs in Chinese megacities – Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou – have been eased. Transfer services among different airlines have been improved to boost the development of regional airlines.


World-class airport hubs in major Chinese developed economic areas are expected to be strengthened in the next 15 years, said Dong Zhiyi, deputy head of the CAAC in a recent media conference.


“China will focus on establishing four strong airport circles in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region, Yangtze River Delta, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Southwest China’s Chengdu and Chongqing,” according to Dong.


China will also promote the establishment of four international cargo airport centers, including Zhengzhou in Central China’s Henan Province, North China’s Tianjin, Hefei in East China’s Anhui Province and Ezhou in Central China’s Hubei Province.


There will be around 40 airport hubs across China that not only closely connect domestic areas but also bring a more convenient international transport.


2035 plan


It is in line with the Outline of the Plan for National Comprehensive Three-dimensional Transport Network released in February, proposing improving the global transportation network, clarifying that efforts will be made to form a fully functional, three-dimensional interconnected, land-sea-air transportation network. China will focus on building seven international land transportation channels including the New Asia-Europe Land Bridge.


According to the outline, there will be about 400 civil transport airports in China by 2035. This means that in the next 15 years, China will add more than 150 airports, an average of 10 new airports per year.


“Three-dimensional transportation can promote the efficient flow of economic elements, reduce business costs and benefit economic development,” Dai Xiantian, a researcher at Kandong Research Institute, told the Global Times on Thursday.


Dai took Shanghai Hongqiao Business District as an example, saying it is the most illustrative case, which has formed a national business district with exhibition, trade, logistics, commerce and information service as its main industries, relying on the super transportation network advantages of railway station, airport, subway, bus station and car station in Hongqiao.


“Various modes of transportation have reached sufficient scale and level, and the network of various transports is in the stage of acceleration,” said the deputy minister Wang.


Source: Global Times

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