China to build 70 airports by 2015 – taking the number to 230

The Chinese Aviation Administration says China will build 70 new airports within the next 3 years, even though  China faces an economic slowdown, taking the number to 230 airports.  They also plan to expand 100 existing airports. They say that Chinese carriers would operate around 4,700 planes by then, compared to 2,888 commercial planes at the end of 2011, growing by 300 planes per year from 2012 to 2015.  Aviation in the Asia Pacific region, according to IATA, is due to produce a £1.3 billion profit this year, which is about half the profit in 2011. This is due to the slowdown in the Indian and Chinese economies though China has had booming air passenger growth due to rising demand for air travel by increasingly affluent Chinese people travelling more often.


China to build 70 airports by 2015

China will build 70 new airports within the next three years, the head of the country’s aviation watchdog has said, as part of ambitious expansion plans in the industry despite an economic slowdown.  The number of airports in China could reach more than 230 by the end of 2015  [However, a range of other numbers have also been given recently – see below ]

 11 Jun 2012  (Telegraph)

Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) chief Li Jiaxiang also reiterated pledges that carriers would buy on average more than 300 planes a year from 2011 to 2015 – the country’s current five-year economic plan.

“China plans to build 70 new airports in the next few years and to expand 100 existing airports,” he told delegates in Beijing at the annual general meeting of global airline industry group IATA.

He added that the number of airports would reach more than 230 by the end of 2015, and that Chinese carriers would operate around 4,700 planes by then.

The aggressive expansion comes after IATA head Tony Tyler warned that global airline profits would more than halve this year on the back of surging oil prices and the eurozone crisis.

The airline industry in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to turn in a $2bn (£1.3bn) profit in 2012, according to IATA figures released on the sidelines of the AGM, but this still represents less than half of the region’s 2011 profit.

The group did not provide specific projections for the China market – which has so far experienced booming growth due to rising demand for air travel as increasingly affluent Chinese people travel more frequently.

But it said part of the reason behind the projected drop in profits in Asia-Pacific was a slowdown in the Indian and Chinese economies.

Growth in China, the world’s second largest economy, slowed to 8.1pc in the first quarter of 2012 – its slowest pace in nearly three years.

But Ma Kai, a state councillor in charge of economic development, said at the AGM that China’s aviation market had the “biggest growth potential” in the world.

“Ever since 2005, the industry has realised an annual growth rate of 17.5pc,” he said.

“We have contributed to the current development of growth in the global civil aviation industry and will continue to do so for the time to come.”

Li added that by the end of 2011, China had 2,888 commercial planes in operation and its aviation industry employed 1.2m people.



Compared to last year:

China to build 56 more airports in five years

(Xinhua)  China Daily


GUIYANG – A senior Chinese civil aviation official said here Thursday that China, the world’s most populous nation, would build 56 more airports during the next five years to expand transport capacity.

Li Jiaxiang, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said the total number of airports in the country would likely top 230 in five years with an aircraft fleet expected to exceed 4,500 units, enough to carry 450 million passengers annually.

“Investment in China’s aviation industry is likely to reach 1.5 trillion yuan (about $230 billion) in the next five years,” Li said at a national civil-aviation work conference held in Guiyang, capital city of Southwest China’s Guizhou province.

China’s investment in building airports has accelerated since the turn of the century. From 2005 to 2010, 33 new airports were constructed while another 33 were renovated or expanded, bringing the total number of airports to 175 in 2010.

Investment in building civil aviation infrastructure during this period hit 250 billion yuan, nearly the equivalent of total spent during the previous 25 years.




and Financial Times

China plans airport building spree

22.4.2011  (FT)

By Geoff Dyer in Beijing

China will build another 45 airports over the next five years, the industry regulator said on Thursday, raising fresh questions about the potential for overcapacity in the transport sector.

Li Jiaxing, the head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said that the new investments would take the total number of airports in the country to 220, even though most of the existing airports were losing money.

Although demand for air travel has grown rapidly in recent years as the purchasing power of Chinese consumers has risen, the expansion in airport infrastructure, which accelerated during the stimulus programme over the past two years, has become one of a number of potential sources ofover-investment across the economy.

Mr Li, who used to run Air China, the country’s biggest airline before moving to the regulator, said that the government would invest Rmb1500bn ($228bn) in the aviation sector in the period to 2015, although he did not say how much of that would go to airports.

According to Reuters, Mr Li, who is also a vice minister for transport, admitted on Thursday that 130 of the country’s 175 existing airports were currently lossmaking, with the combined loss amounting to Rmb1.68bn.

While large new airports in some of China’s major cities have quickly found themselves operating near to capacity because of rising traffic, industry officials say that there are a string of new airports in smaller cities which operate only a handful of flights a week. Goldman Sachs forecasts that passenger demand will rise by 15 % this year, as the growing middle class in China travels more.

The rapid expansion in China’s high-speed rail network has also raised questions about over-investment, a concern that could have been connected to the news 10 days ago that the minister of railways Liu Zhijun is being investigated for “a severe violation of discipline”.

While some think high ticket prices will limit the demand for high-speed rail, supporters of the investment argue that the new expanded passenger network will free up space on the existing network for transporting cargo such as coal, much of which is currently delivered by truck. However, the new high-speed rail routes, such as the Wuhan-Guangzhou line, which cut the journey time from 10 hours to three hours, are also a strong competitor for the aviation sector.

One potential boon for China’s new airports could come from smaller aircraft, after the government announced in November that civilian aircraft could fly in airspace below 4000m. The decision could prompt a big increase in the use of helicopters and light aircraft. Sinolink Securities, a Chinese brokerage, estimates that purchases of helicopters over the next decade in China will reach 3,300.






And the Economist


Airports in China

China’s easy airport expansion

Nov 10th 2011 (Economist)

I LISTENED to a discussion about the airline industry in the “new growth markets of the 21st century” at the World Travel Market in London yesterday. There was lots of talk, as you might expect, about the increasing business that the likes of China, India and Brazil will bring to the world’s airlines in the years ahead and the efforts they are making to modernise their aviation infrastructure.

China, in particular, is making prodigious efforts to bring its airports up to first-world levels. According to China Daily, between 2011 and 2015 China will “expand as many as 91 of its existing 175 airports, while 56 new ones have been planned and 16 earmarked for relocation.” The cost of this work should be around 1.5 trillion yuan ($237 billion).

Compare China’s largesse with the approach to growth being adopted here in Britain. Plans for a third runway at Heathrow are dead, and the idea of a badly needed new London airport to the east of the city has yet to receive concrete backing from any of the main political parties.

The panellists seemed to suggest that the differing approaches showed China was making efforts to welcome business—and specifically travellers—while Britain was dithering on the sidelines. But I think that’s unfair. China can build 56 airports and expand 91 more for $237 billion. The widely mooted cost of a single new airport in south-east England is over a quarter of that: £40 billion ($65 billion).

Furthermore, China has foreign reserves exceeding $3.2 trillion, an economy growing at over 9% a year, and no environmentalist lobby loudly opposing airport development. Some countries can welcome growing numbers of visitors rather more easily than others.