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China's airport construction takes off

By Zheng Yangpeng (China Daily)

08:37, November 27, 2012

The terminal 2 building at Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai. The National Development and Reform Commission approved 24 projects to build new airports and expand existing airports this year. The overall investment was estimated at about 100 billion yuan ($15.9 billion). (China Daily Photo)

Local governments drive expansion in the sector with lofty goals, raising fears of overcapacity

As the global aviation industry is being hit by a downturn due to flagging tourist demand, China is seeing an airport construction boom driven by local governments.

Last month, Hunan province said it planned to build 21 general aviation airports in the next 18 years.

Earlier, neighboring Hubei province also said it would build seven commercial airports and two general aviation airports in the next 18 years.

General aviation airports are designed to handle four to 10-seat aircraft, as well as planes used for agricultural, industrial and rescue purposes.

The lofty goals - though still in the public consultation phase - stirred media debate, and raised questions about the need to have so many airports in the two provinces.

In July, the State Council issued a document to encourage the development of China's civil aviation industry. In the same month, the Civil Aviation Administration of China, or CAAC, said that the country plans to build 82 new airports and expand 101 existing ones across the country from 2011 to 2015.

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