China plans 78 new airports in a decade

15 Jul 2010

China will add eight new airports this year and will add a further 70 over the next decade, according to a government official in Beijing.

Speaking at the Aviation Outlook China Summit in Beijing this week, Diao Yonghai, deputy director of the General Administration of Civil Aviation’s (CAAC) Airport Authority, said that the Chinese government saw airport development as an essential foundation of economic growth.

The CAAC development plan was drafted to meet increasing demand with predicted passenger traffic growth of 11.4 percent and a freight increase of 14 percent annually from now until 2020.

This year alone will see eight new airports added to the 166 certified ones already in operation. By the end of 2020, the number will reach 244 civilian airports across the whole of China.

Compared with developed economies, airport density in China is still low and unevenly distributed. Airport density in Japan, for example, is almost 15 times higher than in China.

Chinese development will focus on creating a first-class international hub in Beijing, and fostering and building mid-sized integrated transportation hubs with a mid-sized airport in its core. The best example for this kind of development is Shanghai’s Hongqiao Airport with its high-speed rail, intercity rail, highway, Maglev, underground and public buses and taxies providing a fast and seamless flow of passengers and freight to and from the airport.

The number of airports serving more than 30 million passengers a year will increase from the current three to 13 by 2020.

The second objective is to promote economic growth in the surrounding areas through stimulating the growth of related industries, following the example of the Beijing Airport industrial zone.

Finally, the execution will be environmentally friendly, through conservation, environmental protection, the use of green technology and human effort.

In 2009, Beijing was the world’s third busiest airport by passenger numbers, up from the 10th place in 2008. Shangai’s Pudong Airport was the third in terms of freight transport tonnage.

Last year, the country built six new airports and witnessed a 14.5 percent growth in flights, a 19.8 percent increase in passengers and a 7 percent growth in cargo. There were 14 Chinese airports with more than 1 million flight arrivals.

Andrea Zavadszky

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