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China's airport construction takes off (2)

By Zheng Yangpeng (China Daily)

08:38, November 27, 2012

This year alone, the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planning agency, approved 24 projects to build new airports and expand existing airports, with an estimated investment of around 100 billion yuan ($15.9 billion).

Li Jiaxiang, head of the CAAC, said that China's civil aviation development required some degree of "advanced thinking".

"China now has only 182 commercial airports. The number is no more than 300 if general aviation airports are also counted. I would say that the airport sector in China is underdeveloped, rather than overdeveloped," Li said.

However, Li admitted that most of China's airports are now running at a loss. Of the 180 airports China had in 2011, 130 were in the red, with a combined deficit of about 2 billion yuan. In a recent report, the Beijing Evening News said that almost all of the country's feeder airports are posting losses.

So why are so many local governments rushing in to build airports?

Local governments' logic

"Wutaishan Airport will not only shorten the distance between Yizhou and the world, bringing convenience to residents conducting economic and trade activities, but will also boost domestic demand, increase consumption and benefit the people," Dong Hongyun, Party secretary of Yizhou, Shanxi province, said at the airport's groundbreaking ceremony in June 2010.

The Wutaishan Airport is just one of three airports being built in Shanxi. If they are all completed, there will be seven airports in the province, which is about the same size as the United States state of Georgia.

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