China’s government has outlined ambitious civil aviation growth plans that it expects will help three of the country’s airlines rank among the world’s top 10 by 2020. Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) vice-minister Gao Hongfeng said at an industry conference organised by Hong Kong’s Airport Authority that during the period between 2011 and 2020 “it is hoped that there will be three Chinese airlines ranked in the top 10 world airlines” – when measured by operating revenue and by revenue passenger kilometres.

Beijing-based Air China was ranked the 23rd largest airline in terms of revenue in the last Airline Business survey of global airlines. Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines ranked 31st and Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines ranked 38th.

China works on five-year plans for economic development, the next of which begins this year and continues through 2010. Gao says it calls for the country’s civil aircraft fleet to increase to 1,580 by 2010 from 863 and the percentage of the population living within 100km (62 miles) or 1.5h drive of an airport to rise to 71.6% from 61.4%.

The CAAC expects around 140 billion yuan ($17.4 billion) to be invested in airport development over the next five years, during which more than 40 all-new airports will be built. There are currently 142 civil airports in the country, but by 2010 there are expected to be 186, says Gao, rising to 220 by 2020.

China’s air transport market is among the world’s fastest growing and last year the number of passengers handled by the country’s airports grew 15.5% to 138 million. ■

Source: Airline Business