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China to expand of its aviation industry

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BEIJING (PTI): Planning to invest 1.5 trillion yuan (USD 228.2 billion), China is poised for massive expansion of its aviation industry by building 45 new airports and adding 700 new planes over the next five years.

The country plans to spend half a trillion yuan more than the previous five years, Li Jiaxiang, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said.

By 2015, the country is expected to have 220 commercial airports with a fleet size of more than 4,500 planes, he said.

China currently has 175 commercial airports in operation with a fleet strength of more than 2,600 aircraft.

In the next five years, the commercial aircraft fleet, which stood at more than 1,600 in 2010, will expand by some 700 planes, a scale similar to the growth in the past five years, state run China Daily reported.

China has 43 airlines, which included eight privately owned or controlled and 35 State-controlled. Of these, 16 are joint ventures.

The CAAC will soon accept three applications for establishing private airlines, Li said.

The number of commercial airports will increase by 45, mostly regional, in the next five years, compared with the 33 new airports completed in the past five years.

Despite concerns over losses reported by many regional airports, the construction process will be speeded up over the next five years; Li said admitting that 130 out of the 175 airports reported "a rather small amount" in losses last year, totalling 1.68 billion yuan.

But "regional airports are public infrastructures, and their construction should not be profit-driven", he said.

Besides, regional airports have brought large economic and social benefits to local communities, which "is why many local governments are still willing to subsidize their operations, despite losses", he said.

The airport in Huai'an, Jiangsu province, which opened for operations in 2010, has attracted 61 foreign-invested companies to settle in the city, while an airport in remote Tengchong county in Yunnan province boosted local tourism, with the county's GDP rising 56 per cent since it opened in 2009.

Also, after a magnitude 7.1 earthquake shook Yushu in Qinghai province, killing 2,687 people, the local airport played a major role in disaster relief.

Airlines transported nearly 3,000 injured people for treatment and prevented the death toll from rising further, he said.

Demand for air traffic is booming as China has emerged as the second largest economy next only to US.

A total of 267 million air passenger trips were recorded in China in 2010, up 15.8 per cent from the previous year, according to official figures.

Domestic airlines reaped profits totalling 35.1 billion yuan in 2010, accounting for 60 per cent of the world's total.

The rapid development has benefited foreign aviation industry players as well, amid a huge demand for aircraft and airport facilities, Li said.

China is also using the expansion of aviation sector as a major instrument to win friends in the west.

Chinese President Hu Jintao placed a USD 15 billion worth orders to buy planes from Airbus industries during his recent visit to France and placed another USD 19 billion worth of orders with Boeing during his visit to Washington.

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China  Aviation   
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