Aviation industry growth rate 'surprisingly good'

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Domestic passenger air traffic soared by 43 percent in August year on year, despite the slump facing the global air transport industry, China's top civil aviation official said.

The growth rate is "surprisingly good", even compared to the fast-growing periods in China's civil aviation history, Li Jiaxiang, director of Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said at the opening ceremony of the 15th World Route Development Forum on Sunday.

"The aviation industry is always the first to reflect the economy. The big growth was achieved thanks to China's economic growth," he said.

China's gross domestic product grew 6.1 percent in the first quarter of the year and 7.9 percent in the second.

Domestic passenger traffic grew by 20 percent in the first six months this year, and the entire aviation industry earned 8 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) in the first six months this year, compared to a huge loss of 28.2 billion yuan last year, Li said.

Li Lei, an analyst at China Securities Co in Beijing, told China Daily that the big growth is partly because July and August are the busy season and last August domestic travel was affected by the Olympic Games.

But more importantly, "the macro economy is boosting the recovery in the air transport industry", he said.

The recently released financial statements of China Eastern and China Southern also said both carriers achieved more than 30 percent growth in domestic passenger traffic, he said.

Besides the good figures in the domestic air transport market, the international travel sector is also recovering, as the international passenger traffic into and out of China grew in August.

Both business travel and tourism have shown signs of recovery, contributing to the improvement in international travel, Li Lei said.

Based on the positive signals, Li Jiaxiang encouraged mainland carriers to grasp the current opportunities and open more international flight routes.

The industry expects a bigger growth in the coming few months, he said.

(China Daily September 15, 2009)

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