China will need more than 240 new passenger aircraft in the next five years but will 'strictly curb' purchases of big long-haul airliners, according to its official five-year plan for the development of aviation, to be released soon. The plan also calls for continuation of the experiment of opening Chinese airlines to foreign investment. The plan, anxiously awaited by the world's aircraft manufacturers, estimates that China, the world's fastest growing aviation market, needs 240 to 300 new aircraft by 2000, sources familiar with the plan said yesterday. According to the plan, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the country's aviation regulator, will 'strictly curb' purchases of long-haul and large aircraft. Instead it would focus on increasing the number of trunk airliners, particularly smaller regional airliners and cargo aircraft. CAAC plans to increase aircraft leasings instead of focusing on outright purchases. It says it will depend on domestic banks and Sino-foreign co-operation to finance the leasings. The sources said the public release of the plan, which is expected in the next few weeks, is unlikely to lead to an immediate increase in aircraft orders. But, they said CAAC seems set to relax its ban on new aircraft orders, imposed two years ago. 'It does not have the money and that is why the leasing aspect is highlighted in the plan,' one source said. CAAC will focus on acquiring planes through several forms of lease including finance lease, operation lease and wet lease, and then followed by purchases. The curb on purchases of large long-haul aircraft would be bad news for US aircraft manufacturer Boeing and European consortium Airbus Industrie. Sources said Boeing would be particularly hit, because CAAC figures showed that of the 92 new aircraft it ordered in the past two or three years, 48 were large aircraft and most of them Boeings. Boeing, Airbus, and another US aircraft-maker, McDonnell Douglas, have been fighting to boost market share in China. In the plan, China envisions 14.4 per cent annual growth in air transport, with turnover volume reaching 14 billion tonne-kilometres, up 96 per cent over 1995 figures. It expects passenger traffic to grow by an annual 14.3 per cent to 100 million, up 95 per cent on 1995. Cargo and mail traffic is expected to grow 14.6 per cent a year to two million tonnes by 2000.