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China's world-class aviation hubs gear up to surpass 100 million-passenger mark

(People's Daily Online)    17:29, May 14, 2018

Four major airports in western China recently started large-scale expansion, with the aim of becoming the world’s top aviation hubs in regards to passenger traffic.

Changshui International Airport in Kunming

After two previous rounds of expansion, Xi'an Xianyang International Airport of Shaanxi province, is planning for a phase-3 project that will enhance its annual passenger capacity to 110 to 120 million.

The phase-3 project was officially approved by the Civil Aviation Administration of China last November. According to the expansion plan, two runways and a 700,000 square meter terminal will be built.

Thanks to the phase-2 project of the airport which concluded in May 2015, the airport is now able to handle 50 million passengers every year. However, passenger traffic is expected to reach 55 million in 2020.

Kunming, Yunnan province is another city that plans to expand its airport. The passenger traffic of Kunming Changshui International Airport will see an estimated increase to 120 million by 2030, with a cargo capacity of 1.2 million tons and 820,000 aircraft movements.

In addition to the above two cities, Chengdu and Chongqing in southwest China are also preparing to build secondary airports. The aviation passenger traffics of the two cities are estimated to surpass 100 million respectively.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the US was the world’s busiest airport in 2017. A total of 103.9 million domestic and international passengers passed through the airport in Georgia last year. These figures suggest that the airports in Xi'an, Kunming, Chengdu and Chongqing will all be ranked among the world’s largest in terms of passenger traffic after their expansion.

These four airports are among China’s busiest. As a result of a topographic complex and the long distance from the eastern region, western China sees a high demand in air transportation.

With further economic development and population influx, the current conditions will not meet future demand.

What’s behind the need to meet the demand is also local governments’ ambition to improve their regional competitiveness. For instance, Xi'an, as an inland city, is hoping to enhance its airport-related economy and open more to the rest of the country as well as the world.

“I believe that each provincial capital has the potential to build its own aviation hub,” said professor He Yuanxiao with Xi'an Jiaotong University. With a huge population base and economic development, air transportation enjoys substantial space to develop, he added. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Bianji, Hongyu)

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