Aviation regulator prepares to expand airports, build new ones

2021-03-16 12:03:25

A plane carrying the logo of Tibet Airlines lands at an airport in Lanzhou, Gansu province, May 21, 2017. [Photo/VCG] China's civil aviation regulator has set a five-year goal to extend existing airports and build more airports to cater to growing demand, officials said. "By 2025, China aims to build airports with a designed capacity of 2 billion passenger trips a year, creating a situation where infrastructure is ahead of civil aviation development," Zhang Qing, deputy head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China's development and planning department, said at a news conference on Monday. Major infrastructure projects include the expansion of eight international airports-Shanghai Pudong, Guangzhou Baiyun, Shenzhen Bao'an, Xi'an Xianyang, Chongqing Jiangbei, Urumqi Diwopu, Changsha Huanghua and Fuzhou Changle-and the construction of new airports in Xiamen, Fujian province, and Hohhot, Inner Mongolia autonomous region. China's airports currently have the capacity to handle 1.4 billion passenger trips a year. At least 30 new airports will be built across China by 2025, supporting State strategic plans, Zhang said. It has 241 civil aviation airports at present. The country also plans to improve the operational quality and efficiency of hub airports, aiming to build "smart airports" to provide more traveler-friendly and high-quality travel experiences for passengers, she said. It will enhance airfreight transport capacity and build hub airports for freight transport and professional logistics facilities, she added. China has been the world's second-largest civil aviation market in terms of the number of passenger trips since 2005, behind only the United States. Feng Zhenglin, director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said in an article in Study Times last week that by 2025 China may be, or be close to, becoming the world's largest civil aviation market in terms of the number of passenger trips. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global civil aviation industry has seen a significant decline in passenger trips. The International Air Transport Association has estimated that international travel won't recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2024. Until then, Feng wrote, China will use the domestic market as a strategic pivot to continue improving competitiveness and be prepared for the recovery of the global market. China's civil aviation industry continues to recover. Last month, the volume of cargo and mail transported by air increased 22 percent compared with the same period in 2019. But the number of passenger trips remained low compared with the same period in 2019. Last month, about 23.9 million passenger trips were handled by airlines, less than half the number in February 2019.