Air transport in China

Air transport in China

As a result of the rapidly expanding civil aviation industry, by 2007 China had around 500 airports of all types and sizes in operation, about 400 of which had paved runways and about 100 of which had runways of 3,047 m or shorter. There also were 35 heliports in 2007, an increasingly used type of facility. With the additional airports came a proliferation of airlines.

At the end of 2004, China had 133 airports for civil flights. In 2004, the turnover of airfreight reached 7.18 billion ton-km, the passenger turnover was 178.2 billion person-km, and the volume of freight traffic 2.767 million tons. China had a total of 1,279 civil flight routes, 1,035 of them domestic routes reaching all large and medium-sized cities, and 244 of them international, connecting China with more than 70 cities overseas.

Aerospace and aircraft

:"Further information: List of airlines of the People's Republic of China"In 2007, China predicts that over the next twenty years its air transportation passenger volume will grow annually by 11%. It will become the world's second largest aviation market and will require an additional 1,790 aircraft to handle the increased volume. Expansion of airport infrastructure will also continue with 49 airports slated for new construction and 701 airport expansion projects under China's current five-year plan, which began in 2006. Furthermore, a new system of regional control centers and full conversion from program to radar based air traffic control will be introduced over the next 5-10 years.

The General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) has been making efforts to rationalize the country's airlines. It has completed mergers with the "Big 3" (Air China, China Eastern and China Southern) and China's smaller, less profitable airlines. The CAAC is concentrating on expanding the number of smaller, single aisle aircraft while phasing out additional wide-body, twin aisle aircraft in the Chinese fleet. CAAC expects the new airlines to improve operating efficiencies and concentrate on developing a modern "hub-and-spoke" air routing system.

At present, CAAC is drafting the 11th Five-Year Plan and 2020 Vision for the aviation industry. It is expected that the annual growth rate will be 14%. By 2010, the total turnover will be 10 billion ton/km; the annual growth rate for general flight will be 10% and the total general flight volume will be 140,000 hours.

Airports and ground equipment

By 2010 (the end of the 11th Five-Year Plan), the China expects to have 186 new airports, which includes 3 national hubs, 7 regional hubs, 24 medium hubs, 28 medium airports and 124 small-size airports. The total investment will be $17.7 billion. It is estimated that the number of airports with scheduled airlines will be 260 by 2015.

Along with passenger airport equipment, large growth has been seen in the air cargo sector. New agreements have been signed to add cargo-carrying capacity to three Chinese airlines. With that capacity will come the need for better ground facilities to handle the additional cargo. China also plans to improve aviation security systems and equipment, computer information management, settlement ticketing systems, global distribution systems and e-commerce. Airport retail concessions are also a new concept for Chinese airport authorities. As airports are faced with the challenge of making money they are considering bringing in partners via food and other retail concessions. Finally, safety equipment - including emergency vehicles - continues to be an area of interest for Chinese airport authorities. Priority will be given to foreign investment, which will be directed toward airport infrastructure construction, technology upgrade and management training.

China is a fast-growing market for air traffic control equipment. Over the past 10 years, CAAC has spent approximately $1 billion on air traffic management (ATM) infrastructure improvements. By 2005, China had installed 31 primary radars, 52 secondary radars, more than 1,000 Very High Frequency (VHF) communications systems, over 160 Omnidirectional Range and Distance Measurement Systems (VOR/DMEs), and more than 140 Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) (see Distance measuring equipment). CAAC Air Traffic Management Bureau’s (ATMB) goal over the next 5 years is to improve facilities in the eastern and mid-western sections of the country. The improvements call for a comprehensive data network, new automation-center systems, ground-air voice/data communications, and new enroute radars.

China also plans to introduce ground-to-air communications and automatic dependent surveillance services for international and polar routes in the west. CAAC will reorganize the current airspace structure, reducing the total number of area control centers from 27 to 5 by 2010. In reorganizing the current structure, CAAC will construct two new regional control centers, in addition to the three remaining in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.

See also

*Air route authority between the U.S. and China
*Lunar New Year cross-strait charter
*People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF)

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