Beijing plans to build 97 regional airports
29.1.2008 (Financial Times)
The Chinese government has launched an ambitious plan to build 97 regional airports
by 2020, at an estimated cost of $62.5bn in an attempt to meet soaring domestic
passenger and cargo demand. The cabinet has approved the plan in recent days,
stipulating that 45 of the new airports are to be finished by the end of 2010.
By the end of 2006, China had 147 civilian airports.
A decade of rapid econ omic growth has created serious bottlenecks in aviation
infrastructure, forcing the government to embark on a substantial building programme.
But analysts said chronic congestion will linger even with the addition of new
airports, because of shortages in skilled personnel. ….There is so much expansion
going on across the country that training will be top priority for at least the
next 10 years.
The General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) said the ob jective
was for 82% of the country’s 1.3bn people to live within 100km or 90 minutes’
drive from an airport, up from the current 61%.
But analysts also questioned whether building numerous small airports in more
remote areas was the best way to improve efficiency in the industry.
Airports in China are usually built by provincial governments hoping to boost
their local economies. There have been numerous examples in recent years of small
airports closing down soon after they have been built because of lack of demand
or poor co-ordination with regional neighbours.
According to CAAC the biggest problems facing the civil aviation industry include
too few airports, limited services, saturation at the main hubs of Shanghai, Guangzhou
and Beijing and difficulties in co-ordinating civil and military flight paths.
These problems are expected to worsen with domestic Chinese cargo traffic projected
to increase 15% annually between now and 2020, while passenger traffic should
increase at an annual rate of 11.4%.
That growth in passenger demand would raise the number of airports servicing
more than 30m passengers a year from 3 to 13 by 2020, according to official figures.
The US, with less than a quarter of China’s pop ulation but a much higher gross
domestic product per capita, had 3,364 airports by the end of 2005, according
to the Airports Council Inter national. By the end of 2006, China had 147 civilian