New airport lifts region's hope for better economy
A new airport scheduled to open in geographically isolated eastern Guangdong next month may help boost the local economy, which has long trailed behind its western neighbour, officials say.
The Jieyang Chaoshan airport - located about 20 kilometres from Jieyang, Chaozhou and Shantou - is expected to replace the hub in Shantou, which has long been used for military purposes, with limited civilian services.
The Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday that Zhu Xiaodan, the acting governor, toured the new airport and said the construction was a major part of the province's plan to balance regional development. Transport expert Zheng Tianxiang said the new airport would speed up development in remote eastern Guangdong, where a lack of resources had kept it behind the Pearl River Delta and Zhanjiang city to the west.
'There has been a heavier presence of petrochemical and industrial enterprises in Jieyang over the past few years,' he said. 'The new airport will help boost development. It is also putting the region within an hour's flight of Hong Kong.'
Despite applause for the new facility, 26-year-old Chaozhou resident You Miaoping was not impressed.
'I would rather ride the bus than fly because I just can't afford the airfares,' she said.
'The new airport is also very far from Chaozhou. And I'm not sure there will be good bus [links] either, because there weren't any for the Shantou airport.'
Guangdong already has six civilian airports in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Meizhou, Shantou and Zhanjiang.
The 125-hectare Jieyang Chaoshan airport cost more than 4 billion yuan (HK$4.9 billion) to build and is expected to serve 4.5 million travellers by 2020, Nanfang Daily said.