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Zhengzhou to become air hub
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Officials in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province, have unveiled an ambitious plan to develop the city's newly expanded airport into a major gateway to Central China, with possible direct flights to North America and Europe.


A new terminal, costing 1.4 billion yuan ($192 million) was opened recently in Xinzheng, about an hour's drive from the city center.


There are now plans to expand the airport's total area to 138 sq km by 2035, 17 times its current size.


Yue Wenhai, the airport's general manager, said the existing terminal has some 4,100 seats in its waiting areas and more than 100 check-in counters.


The number of aircraft docks has been increased from 14 to 31, with the two largest capable of handling the giant A380, the largest passenger aircraft in the world, Yue said.


Li Chengyu, governor of Henan, China's most populous province, said Zhengzhou's airport was key to the region fulfilling its air gateway ambitions.


Zhengzhou has good rail and highway networks, but in terms of air passenger numbers it is dwarfed by its neighbors Xi'an and Wuhan, he said.


Pei Zhiyang, vice-director of the Henan provincial commission of development and reform, said that the airport was expected to become a "regional leader", opening up to major international routes by 2035, and capable of handling 70 million passengers a year.


A parent company, Henan Airport Group, will be established at "an appropriate time", incorporating airports in Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Nanyang and Shangqiu cities in the province, he said.


Pei said part of the funding for the development will be provided by the central government, which spent 300 million yuan on the new terminal and committed a further 100 million yuan over the next three years.


The remaining funds will come from bank loans and investment from private and large State-owned enterprises, Pei said.


Domestic flights will be increased to major cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou by 2010.


After that, focus will turn to developing direct international routes to Southeast Asia, North America, Europe and chartered flights to Taiwan Province.


International cargo routes will also be boosted under the plan, Pei said.


(China Daily January 3, 2008)


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