China is to undertake a revolution in its development of civil aviation and will take its place at world aviation’s top table by building up to 140 new civil airports by 2020 and encouraging its airlines to form joint ventures with foreign operators.

Talking to delegates at the Asian Aerospace Congress yesterday morning, Wang Changshun, vice minister of the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC), said the mainland government was looking at further market collaborations to boost its domestic market in a move that will require a new type of structure in order to succeed in meeting its new ambitious targets

From a base of 50 airports in 2005, the government will have 190 civil airports by 2020. “We will need to develop new airlines and facilities to meet future infrastructure needs and increase competition by continuing with reform efforts,” says Wang.

He added that to reform the entire industry to meet market needs, not only should small-scale airlines be encouraged, but also large-scale international collaborations and joint-ventures. “We must promote a new type of structure while continuing with our reform efforts and facilitate new brands,” he says.

Warning that safety was not yet up to international standards, but would be reinforced with a new safety management system, Wang says the rapid, balanced development of aviation hubs across the mainland would remain a top priority. This included a promotion of the development of routes through Hong Kong, Macau and the Taiwan Straights.

Wang’s comments chimed with the opening address from Eva Cheng, the transport and housing secretary of the Hong Kong government, who says trilateral talks between the civil aviation authorities of Hong Kong, Macau and China are tackling the pressing issue of congestion.

Cheng says the island’s civil aviation infrastructure is being boosted by a $1 billion transportation investment, which will include a commitment to improving baggage handling facilities at Hong Kong Airport, a new hangar for China Aircraft Services, a widening of taxiways for the Airbus A380 and the possibility for a third airport terminal.

“We are looking at different ways to ensure Hong Kong remains the biggest international air freight handling centre and the fifth-busiest passenger airport,” says Cheng. “We are inviting tenders for a third cargo terminal by 2011 and a first study for a possible third runway is being implemented in 2008.”

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Source: Flight Daily News