The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s planning body, has recently approved the building of four civil airports in Kangding, Leshan, Tengchong and Daqing, according to the official Xinhua news agency. Construction of the four airports is estimated to cost a total of 1.618 billion yuan (US$202.7 million), part of the ambitious plan of NDRC and the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (GACAC) for large-scale airport construction requiring about 140 billion yuan over the next five years.
Of the four newly-approved airports, Kangding Airport in Sichuan Province will require an investment of 950 million yuan; Leshan Airport also in Sichuan Province, 150 million yuan; Tengchong Airport in Yunnan Province, 321 million yuan; and Daqing Airport in Heilongjiang, 197 million yuan. All will be built according to domestic feeder line standards.
According to the NDRC, airport construction in the 2006-2010 period is focused on fostering central airports, expanding the handling capacity of hub airports and artery airports, improving the functions of hub airports, renovating existing feeder line airports and adding outlets to feeder line airports.
At present, the Chinese mainland has a total of 142 civil airports. The number of airports in the mainland is small as compared with other countries. The density of airports in the United States is 6.4 per 100,000 square kilometres, 4.5 times more than that of China.
Yang Guoqing, vice-director of GACAC, stated that by 2010, there will be 196 transport airports in the Chinese mainland. They include three large complex hub airports, seven large hub airports, 24 middle-size hub airports, 28 middle-size airports and 124 small airports.
In the next five years, China plans to expand three complex hub airports in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to meet the demand of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, the Shanghai World Expo in 2010 and the Guangzhou Asian Games also in 2010. China plans to relocate Kunming Airport and renovate and expand other 23 midsize hub airports; relocate and expand 28 midsize airports and 82 small airports; and build 42 new airports.
As to capital required for many airports, Song Chaoyi, vice director of the Communication and Transportation Department of NDRC, revealed that capital for hub airports in central and western areas and northeastern areas will come from government investment and market operation, those for feeder line airports in central and western areas and northeastern areas mainly from government investment; and those for airports in coastal areas mainly from market operation.
China places a strict limit on the share proportion of foreign capital in domestic airports and the variety of airports to be invested by foreign capital. The ceiling proportion is set at 49 per cent for two foreign investors and 25 per cent for a single foreign investor, which will hinder foreign investment in domestic airports to some extent.
Operation of domestic airports at present is polarized. Except for hub airports in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, which make profits, two-third of Chinese airports are in loss, especially those midsize and feeder line airports in northeastern parts and central and western parts.