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China needs 2,200 planes in next 20 years
By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-01 22:56

China's civil aviation fleet will need to add 2,194 new planes in the next 20 years to feed the country's ever-growing demand for air travel, a leading industrial research institute predicted Monday.

In the years leading up to 2023, the number of China's civil passenger planes is expected to more than triple in size, from the current 664, to reach 2,373, said Liao Quanwang, vice-director of the Aviation Industry Development Research Centre of China.

The predicted air fleet expansion has factored in replacements for planes that will be taken out of service in the two decades, Liao said during the 5th Air Show China, which started on Sunday and runs until next Sunday.

In its annual market outlook for China's civil aircraft released yesterday, the centre said the country's steady and fast economic growth provided an engine for the development of air transport sector.

Based on authoritative studies, the centre forecast China could post an annual gross domestic product growth of 6.8 per cent between 2004 and 2023, when tourism will grow at an even faster pace.

Added to this are travel stimuli during the period, including the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 and the Shanghai Expo in 2010, Liao said.

"Which means that during the 20-year period, passenger air travel, measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs), is expected to record an annual increase of 9.3 per cent," he said.

RPKs are a result of multiplying the number of fare-paying passengers by the distance in kilometres flown by them.

In 20 years, China's RPKs will rocket from 126.32 billion in 2003 to 743.7 billion, according to the centre's forecast.

As to regional planes, the aviation market forecast report said the development of regional airlines would hold the key to resolving traffic woes in the country's southwest and northwest regions, which abound in tourism resources.

"During the coming 20 years, we anticipate China's civil airlines will add 705 aircraft with no more than 100 seats each," Liao said.

However, the development of China's civil air transport sector will also be challenged by the escalating fuel prices and competition from other transport means like trains, which accelerated speed for the fifth time in April and provided more comfort and convenience to passengers, according to Liao.

The report did not reveal the source of the new planes. Were they all imported, the cost could exceed US$100 billion, Liu Gaozuo, president of China Aviation Industry Corp I, said earlier.

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