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China's aviation fleet set to double in next five years


BEIJING (PTI): China's civil aviation industry plans to increase its fleet strength to about 5,000 aircraft in five years to offer quick and cheaper air travel, a top Chinese official has said.

Li Jiaxiang, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said some "450 million to 500 million passenger trips" are expected to be made annually by the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) period, up from 230 million in 2009.

The country's civil aviation fleet will have 4,800 to 5,000 planes to transport passengers and cargo in the next five years, up from the current 2,600 planes, he told the official 'China Daily'.

Li said China's aviation industry has witnessed double-digit growth in the past five years, and "this pace will not slow down in the coming five years".

Since 1978, when China adopted the reform and opening-up policy, the civil aviation sector has developed at an astonishing speed of 17.2 per cent annually.

"Our forecast, based on industry trends as well as the surging social and economic demand for air transport, shows the speed of development will remain this way for a long period," Li said.

The CAAC aims to sharpen the competitive edge of China's air transport industry in the next two decades, and the following five years are believed to be very important to help fulfill the goal.

According to the CAAC, it plans to use the next 20 years to build China into a "civil aviation power" and develop a "safe, efficient and green" air transport industry.

The administration's targets include 1.5 billion passenger trips a year by 2030, which will make China the largest air transport market in the world, good safety record and service, and punctuality of scheduled flights to reach 85 per cent or even better.

However, these ambitious goals will need more supportive measures, Li said.

The proposal for the 12th Five-Year Plan released on Wednesday includes measures to "optimise the layout of airports" and "reform of the airspace management system" in the next five years.

The country's civil aviation sector is facing increasing competition from the fast-sprawling high-speed rail network, which excels when it comes to punctuality and geological proximity to city centres.

China has planned to build a 13,000-km high-speed railway network by 2012. Plans are afoot to increase the speed of the trains to 500 kmph radically reducing the travel time between the cities.

Zhao Jian, a transport professor at the Beijing Jiaotong University, said the CAAC should also relax control and allow more budget and regional airlines to operate, besides welcoming more private airlines in the competition.

The price of air tickets is still too high for a section of the public because the major players in the market are State-owned, he said.

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China  Aircraft  

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