Beijing Daxing International Airport's first flight, a China Southern Airlines' A380, takes off as the airport opens to traffic on Sept 25, 2019. (Photo by Zou Hong/China Daily)
China is expected to have around 450 civil airports by 2035 to meet people's burgeoning demand for air travel, according to the civil aviation authority on Tuesday.
The country will step up efforts to build more than 200 airports over the next 15 years. By that time, China's airports will be able to handle more than 3 billion passenger trips every year, according to Dong Zhiyi, deputy director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
"General aviation airports increased from 158 in 2009 to 238 as of the end of October, with 37 handling over 10 million passenger trips annually," Dong said during a national airport conference in Dalian, Liaoning province.
"Meanwhile, air passenger trips also rocketed from 410 million to 1.26 billion during the same period."
China is expected to serve 1.4 billion passengers annually by 2035, exceeding the number served in the United States and make China the largest air passenger market in the world, according to a forecast by the administration last year.
However, the existing airports are unevenly distributed throughout the country and are far from capable of handling the vast market and fast-growing travel needs.
Feng Zhenglin, head of the administration, said though the number of airports in China has grown rapidly in the past decade, it's still far from enough.
So far, there are a total of 238 general aviation airports in China, less than half the number of airports in the US.
"At present, the airports can only cover 91.7 percent of the country's prefecture-level cities and 86.25 percent of the population, with the number of flights taken per person less than 0.5," he said.
"It's a must that we build more airports in a bid to strengthen areas of weakness in the civil aviation sector."
In line with the goal, China will accelerate the expansion of current overcrowded airports and have at least six aviation hubs capable of handling 100 million trips annually in the long run, the administration's plan said.
China will also turn 30 airports into comprehensive transportation hubs to provide a more convenient travel experience for passengers by 2035.
World-class airport clusters will be built in the Yangtze River Delta region; the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region; the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area; and the Chongqing and Chengdu city cluster, Dong said.