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Nation aiming for further growth in aviation sector

By Ji Beibei (Global Times)

08:43, July 13, 2012

China aims to achieve annual growth of over 12 percent for its aggregate air traffic mileage, as well as improving its general aviation services and edging up its flight on-time rate by 2020, according to guidance for aviation sector development released by the State Council Thursday.

Air transport capacity is expected to expand continuously with the aggregate air traffic mileage growing annually by 12.2 percent to 170 billion ton-kilometers by 2020, a target that industrial watchers said was conservative.

The country's aviation sector usually grows at a speed of 1.4 to 1.5 percent more than GDP, Li Lei, a Beijing-based aviation analyst at China Securities Co, told the Global Times Thursday. So the target of 12 percent growth is certainly achievable, he said.

The country's aggregate air traffic mileage posted year-on-year growth of 26 percent in 2010 but the growth was only 7.2 percent in 2011, according to data from consultancy Qianzhan Intelligence Co.

However, China's aviation market - which is the second largest only to that of the US in terms of aggregate air traffic mileage - is expected to have good prospects in the next decade, according to analysts.

"The Chinese aviation sector tends to outperform the global industry," Zou Jianjun, director of the Institute of Air Transport Services, told the Global Times.

Economic difficulties both at home and abroad have dampened the aviation sector since last year. But in the next few years the sector is expected to regain the momentum it had in 2010, Zou said.

The total number of passengers is expected to have doubled that of 2011 by 2020 and the volume of air freight will reach 9.9 million tons in 2015, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

The government will also pursue reforms in airspace resource management and offer more room for general aviation services to grow, according to the guidance.

The flight on-time rate, which has often been a source of tension between passengers and airlines, is expected to rise above 80 percent by 2020. The on-time rate was some 75 percent in 2010.

Though the 2011 on-time rate climbed to 77.2 percent, according to the CAAC, the figure was below the level of 85 percent in the US during the same period.

"Unreasonable and ineffective use of air transport capacity and the fact that demand has grown faster than capacity are reasons for the poor on-time rate," Li of China Securities noted.

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