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Rising to meet the future of aviation

By Dong Jidong ( China Daily )

Updated: 2016-11-17

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Officials and businesspeople gather for airport cities conference to make deals and discuss the industry's potential, Dong Jidong reports.

The 2016 Airport Cities World Conference & Exhibition was held from Tuesday to Thursday in Qingdao, a coastal city in East China's Shandong province. The event brought together world-class expertise and opinion from aerotropolis practitioners, innovative technology leaders and major industry players.

More than 400 participants from over 20 countries and regions, including representatives of airports, government officials, real estate developers, financing and investment companies, have attended the conference.

With the theme "driving regional growth and economic prosperity", the three-day event is expected to generate in-depth analysis and debate on 15 topics, including how to create an effective airport city and aerotropolis planning, building free trade zones as engines for airport cities and maintaining sustainable development of aerotropolises.

Xin Tianhe, general manager of operations control of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said that the fact the conference returned to China is recognition of the development of the aviation industry and airport economies of East China's coastal cities.

A range of activities, including keynote speeches, seminars and master classes have been held at the event, which makes Qingdao the fourth host city in China, following Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

John Kasarda, director of the Center for Air Commerce at the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School, as well as a leading developer of the aerotropolis concept, is chairman of this year's event.

Kasarda said an aerotropolis is a metropolitan subregion in which infrastructure, land-use and the economy are centered around a major airport.

"The value of a well-planned aerotropolis will boost the economies of outlying areas, including surrounding communities and the greater metropolitan region," Kasarda told the conference.

"The fastest and best-connected places will win in the 21st century, which is the areotropolis strategy."

Launched by UK-based UBM plc, a commercial exhibition organizer, in 2002, the annual event has become a major platform for publicizing the development of aerotropolises and promoting the growth of regions where airports are located. Each year, UBM selects a city with the greatest development potential from a number of candidates who bid to host the event.

Zhang Xinqi, mayor of Qingdao, said: "Qingdao is an important city on the Belt and Road."

According to Zhang, the city has trade relationships with 216 countries and regions around the world. Over the years, it has introduced 126 overseas companies listed among the world's top 500. Annual foreign trade turnover has reached $80 billion.

The city receives more than 74 million visitors a year. There are 19 international air routes serving more than 18 million passengers.

"Qingdao will build a new urban area surrounding the Jiaodong International Airport and strive to become an international aviation hub in northeast Asia," Zhang said.

By 2025, an aerotropolis will be built around the airport, equipped with a complete aviation industrial cluster, Zhang said.

By 2030, Qingdao will become an aviation hub in northeast Asia, with international direct routes that link the city to a number of counterparts around the world, he said.

Jiao Yongquan, chairman of the Qingdao International Airport Group, which co-sponsored the event, said the government should play a key role in establishing an aviation ecosystem that integrates resources in such sectors as customers, products, services, human resources and data.

The 2016 Airport Cities event is expected to help with Qingdao's development strategy of building three centers and one base, which refers to a key innovation center on the eastern coast, a crucial regional service center, an internationally-advanced center for ocean development and an advanced manufacturing base, tapping the strength of the international market, according to the headquarters for the construction of the Jiaodong International Airport.

"Moreover, more airlines and investors around the world will pay attention to the aviation industry's rapid development in Qingdao, prompting the launch of new international and domestic routes in the city," Jiao said.

The event is also expected to generate more opportunities for the coordinated development of the city's pillar airport-related industries and supporting industries, including logistics, Jiao added.

Contact the writer at dongjidong@chinadaily.com.cn

Rising to meet the future of aviation

A plane from Qingdao to Frankfurt, Germany, takes off at the Qingdao Liuting International Airport in March, the first cross-continent flight from the city.Photos Provided To China Daily

Rising to meet the future of aviation

International participants cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony for the 2016 Airport Cities World Conference & Exhibition in Qingdao.Xie Hao / For China Daily

(China Daily 11/17/2016 page12)