Guangzhou mulls building second airport for city
Charlotte So and Mimi Lau in Guangzhou
Guangzhou authorities are considering building a second airport in the city, possibly in the southern district of Nansha, but some analysts question its merits.
Guangzhou Mayor Chen Jianhua told the city's People's Congress on Monday the local government was studying the feasibility of a second airport, The Southern Metropolis News reported yesterday.
Within the Pearl River Delta region, there are already three key civilian airports - in Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Shenzhen - in addition to a military airport in Foshan and airports in Hong Kong and Macau.
The report did not say whether Chen elaborated on the rationale behind such a project, but response from some experts has been mixed.
Wang Han , a researcher with the Guangzhou-based Urban Research Institute of South China, was quoted by the newspaper as saying it would be a wasteful project and the government should first consider consolidating existing airport resources before building a new one.
Others questioned whether the new airport would simply be a tool used by the local government to stimulate the economy.
News of the planned airport come at a time when central government authorities are spearheading plans to invest in infrastructure to shore up the nation's economy.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China, the mainland's aviation regulator, last month beefed up plans to increase airport investment during the five-year period to 2015. The total number of new airports had been set at 56 in 2010, but it was revised to 82, with plans to expand 101 airports instead of 91.
The new airport is tipped to be located in Nansha - one of the two destinations previously shortlisted for relocation of the city's Baiyun International Airport, located in the northern district of Huadu.
The Southern Metropolis News report said the airport, which opened in 2009, had already exceeded its planned annual capacity of 25 million passengers.
Last year, it reportedly handled 45 million.
More than 1,000 planes take off and land at the airport every day, and a third runway is being built. However, Zhang Kejian, general manager of the Guangdong Airport Management Corporation, was quoted by local media last month as saying the airport's efficiency would become a concern if the annual passenger load rose to more than 80 million or 90 million.
Zheng Tianxiang, a retired professor with Sun Yat-sen University's Centre for Studies of Hong Kong, Macau and the Pearl River Delta, in Guangzhou, said a second airport in the city had been tipped to be used by small, high-end commercial jets designed to carry 10 to 20 people.
'The highly commercialised and developed economies in Nansha's neighbourhoods [make it ideal to] develop business aviation,' said Zheng.