[photopress:airport.jpg,full,alignright]Although China has the world’s fastest growing civil aviation industry, more airports are needed to extend airline services to more parts of the country.
Yang Yuanyuan, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said while addressing a training course for airport senior managers, ‘The number of airports is still small compared to other countries.’
This is true. Comparative figures:
United States – 20,000 airports.
Brazil – more than 2,500.
China – less than 500 . . . and then only if temporary runways are included.
Not only are there very few, the distribution is unbalanced. The density of airports in eastern China is 5.3 times the national average, while the density in western China is less than two-thirds the average. Which makes it very empty of airports
China’s dozen large airports are operating beyond their capacity, which raises their logistics costs. Small ones are losing money because of a lack of passengers.
Yang Yuanyuan said that although less than 20% of all air passengers use small airports, they are ‘very important cornerstones of the sustainable development of civil aviation. Airports should be regarded as public infrastructure. Local governments can continue to let profitable large airports operate as enterprises, but they should treat medium-sized and small airports as public welfare facilities.’
Same is true in Australia. There is no small country town that does not have a feeder airport within easy reach. Yes, the airports are subsidized and the airfares, typically, are not inexpensive. But this feeder network of small airports is essential to the country.
Wang Wei, a professor at the Tianjin-based Civil Aviation University of China, said the widespread notion that airports are enterprises rather than infrastructure had kept local governments and large airport groups from building more small airports in recent years.
He said, ‘If you simply look at the figures reflecting an airport’s performance, it may seem like they are losing money. But the benefits they provide to the local economy and tourism sector are huge.’
Source: China Daily