The Civil Aviation Administration of China has reaffirmed its intention to strengthen the growth of five hub airports including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, to boost transcontinental and regional air links.
The move, outlined at an airport planning and development conference in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou province, underwrites a plan put forward by the aviation regulator in 2008.
At the conference, CAAC head Li Jiaxiang also reiterated plans to expand the number of mainland airports from 175 to 230 by 2015.
This comes as Beijing became the world's second busiest airport last year, handling 73.9 million passengers, up 13 per cent year on year. By comparison, Guangzhou was placed 19th in the world by airport industry lobby group, Airports Council International, after handling 40.9 million travellers, up 10.6 per cent compared with 2009. Shanghai was ranked 20th with 40.6 million passengers, a 27.2 per cent year-on-year increase.
The three airports, together with Shenzhen, are among the world's top 30 busiest cargo airports.
Under the CAAC's plan, Beijing Capital Airport will lead the northern airport group, while Shanghai will head the east airport group. Guangzhou Baiyun international airport will be the hub airport for central China, while Chengdu and Xian will be hub airports for the southwest and northwest of the country.
Beijing is expected to help feed air traffic to northern cities including Tianjin and Shenyang and Harbin.
Shanghai Pudong will remain the main gateway for eastern China and the Yangtze River Delta, but CAAC also plans to accelerate the development of Shanghai Hongqiao and regional airports such as Hangzhou, Nanjing and Xiamen.
Airports such as Shenzhen, Wuhan, Changsha and Haikou will be developed in the south and central part of China to support the main international gateway at Guangzhou Baiyun. These airports are expected to foster the economic development of the Pearl River delta and tourism on Hainan Island.
Kunming airport also will act as the gateway to Yunnan province for passenger and cargo traffic from Southeast Asia, although Chengdu will be the southwest's main hub.
Urumqi will be the regional airport for the development of the Tianshui economic zone and Xinjiang, although Xian remains the hub.
Airports at Lanzhou, Yinchuan, Yushu and Xining will also be developed, while Kashgar airport will become the major airport in southern Xinjiang.
Li said: 'Investment in China's aviation industry is likely to reach 1.5 trillion yuan in the next five years.'
The CAAC forecast that the number of domestic and international passengers would climb to 500 million travellers per year by 2015, of which about 18 per cent would be international passengers.
Analysts have also said the expansion of China's aviation industry made it imperative that Hong Kong maintain its lead position as an international passenger and airfreight gateway for China and the region.Topics: Guangdong Aviation Civil Aviation Administration of China Aviation in China Guangdong Aviation Industry in China