China drafted a long-term plan for development of air cargo, which will require the building of 97 new airports, consolidation of smaller airports and upgrading of certain key airports by the year 2020. The entire project will cost the government a massive investment of $64 billion.
Under the plan, 97 feeder-line airports will be built across the country, the main air hubs will be upgraded, and airport clusters will be set up in the northern, eastern, central, southern, southwestern and northwestern parts of the country, according to the new Ministry of Transport.
The ministry, which was formed on March 24, encompasses all the state entities related to road, sea and air traffic. It is evolved from the former Ministry of Communications and the General Administration of the Civil Aviation of China.
By the end of 2006, the Chinese mainland had 147 airports with 45 of them serving both military and civilian traffic.
The program calls for the forming of airport clusters according to their function - international, domestic or feeder airports - and integration of large, small and medium-sized airports. The main goal is balanced development of airports with improved coordination among airports and between trunk and feeder routes, and increased capacity of medium-sized and large airports.
Under the plan for northern China, Beijing will have a second airport and the existing Capital International Airport will be upgraded into an international hub.
Discussions have been continuing since 2002 on which airport will be Beijing's second aviation facility. The main contenders are Tianjin, Langfang in Hebei province and Daxing district in Beijing. Yang Guoqing, a senior civil aviation official, said that the final decision would not be made until 2010.
The other top airports that are to be upgraded are Pudong International Airport in Shanghai and New Baiyun International Airport in Guangzhou - both have been selected to grow into international air cargo hubs.