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Big surge in air traffic forecast in next two decades
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Despite the global downturn, the H1N1 flu epidemic and a fast-developing high-speed rail network, China's domestic airline traffic is expected to expand fast, with an annual growth rate of 8.2 percent in the next 20 years, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) said.

The latest annual forecast released yesterday showed that China would need 3,796 new airplanes over the next two decades, including 2,922 jumbo jets and 874 regional jets.

The country's passenger fleet will nearly quadruple to 4,233 by 2028, said Liao Quanwang, researcher and executive vice-president of AVIC Development Research Center.

The single-aisle planes with 150 seats, such as the B737, A320 and the future homemade C919, will still be the largest category, but its percentage in the whole fleet will decline from the current 67 percent to some 39 percent by 2028, he said.

"As some air routes already run flights every 30 minutes to handle the huge passenger traffic, we expect more 200-seat planes will be used on these routes to expand transport capacity," he said.

But still, Wu Guanghui, chief designer of the C919 program and deputy general manager of the Shanghai-based Commercial Aviation Corporation , estimated that some 2,000 C919 planes would be needed in a period of 20 years after its take-off in 2016.

The estimation is based on a forecast that China will need 2,600 single-aisle jetliners in next 20 years, he said.

AVIC also forecast that China's cargo fleet will expand to 583 freighters by 2028, up from the current fleet of 68 freighters.

(China Daily September 24, 2009)

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