China will spend 140 billion yuan (US$17.4 billion) over the next five years to expand its airport infrastructure to meet a predicted 14 per cent annual growth in domestic air traffic, a civil aviation official said yesterday.
The amount is a sharp increase over the 120 billion yuan (US$14.9 billion) the government spent on airport infrastructure in the fifteen years from 1990 to 2005.
"By 2010, the mainland will have about 186 airports, up from 142 currently," said Gao Hongfeng, vice-minister of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, or CAAC. Several existing airports will also be expanded to ease the pressure on capacity from rising traffic, he said at an aviation conference in Hong Kong.
Gao also said China's fleet of commercial aircraft will grow to 1,580 by 2010, up from 863 currently, before reaching a total of about 4,000 aircraft by 2020.
The government will continue to expand the country's three largest airports - Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou - to help them maintain their role as China's main international air transport hubs for passengers and cargo, he said.
China's aggressive aviation development plans come as air traffic continues to grow at double-digit rates. In 2005, Chinese airlines carried 138 million passengers, up 15.5 per cent from the previous year, and 3.1 million metric tons of cargo, up 13.8 per cent.
The CAAC said it expects passenger and cargo traffic to grow at an average of 14 per cent a year until 2010, with growth then slowing to 11 per cent annually in the period 2011-20.
Source: China Daily