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17mln Travel by Air During Spring Festival

More than 17 million people traveled by plane during the 40-day period around the Spring Festival, up 18 per cent from last year, official statistics show.


Between January 14 and yesterday, China's transport system consisting of planes, trains and buses saw a record 2.04 billion trips.


Air transport continues to be the fastest growing means, as more and more people work away from their hometowns. The country's transport system encountered unprecedented pressure during this Spring Festival.


Though normally costing much more than the two other means of transport, air travel is gaining favour from more and more people in China.


According to statistics from the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC), airlines arranged nearly 150,000 scheduled flights during the period, up 10.6 per cent year-on-year.


Flights among 52 major cities carried 370,000 passengers daily, with an average 70 per cent of the seats filled, the CAAC said.


Also, 72 cross-Straits charter flights represented a 50 per cent increase over last year. In 19 days between January 20 and February 7, more than 27,000 passengers took the charter flights, an increase of 152 per cent on last year, the administration said.


But for most Chinese people, trains and buses are still cheaper ways of traveling.


At least 1.877 billion passengers, or more than 90 per cent of the total number, used roads during the period, up 4.2 per cent on last year, the Ministry of Communications said yesterday.


Each day during the festival period, an average of 46.9 million people were traveling on more than 700,000 long-distance buses, it said.


Thanks to the country's expressway network, now 41,000 kilometers long, many passengers have found their way home much shorter than before.


"It took me less than 3 hours from Nanjing, where I work, to my hometown in Nantong," said Lin Nan, 24, who took a long-haul bus home before Spring Festival. Before the highway was completed, she had to spend 5 hours on the road.


The railways handled 149 million trips during the period, an increase of 9.5 million on the same period in 2005.


To ensure plenty of tickets for passengers, the ministry put 21,800 trains into use in addition to the regular trains, 3,300 more than that of last year.


(China Daily February 23, 2006)


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