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China sees no end to boom in air traffic
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By Wang Zhiyong
China.org.cn staff reporter

Hit by the global economic downturn and the H1N1 flu pandemic, the world aviation industry is facing an unprecedented crisis with passenger numbers falling rapidly. Airlines lost 6 billion US dollars in the first half of 2009 and are expected to lose a 9 billion over the whole year, according to the International Air Transport Association. But Chinese air traffic is up 20 percent and the domestic airline industry earned 8 billion yuan (1.1 billion US dollars) in the first six months of 2009.

China's airports handled 405.8 million passengers last year, equal to the combined total of Germany and Spain, according to Li Jiaxiang, director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). Li was speaking at the 15th World Route Development Forum which closed on September 15.

One man walking by an exhibitive pavilion at the 15th World Route Development Forum on Sept 14, 2009. The 3-day forum opened at the new China International Exhibition Center in Beijing has attractted about 3,000 representatives from nearly 400 airlines, 500 airports, tourism authorities and industry suppliers worldwide to come and discuss future development of the world air routes, as well as the global aviation industry. [China.org.cn]

China civil airlines currently have 1,349 aircrafts in service but ballooning domestic demand is likely to see this number grow by additional 3,700 over the next 20 years, according to a Boeing report.

A total of 96 airlines operate scheduled services across 162 airports in China. Ranked by weekly flights the leading airlines are China Southern, China Eastern, Air China, Shenzhen Airlines and Hainan Airlines.

Beijing Capital International Airport is the country's busiest, with around 13 percent of the country's scheduled capacity. The number of flights from the airport has increased by 9.4 percent since last September. But although the Capital Airport has regular flights to 191 cities in 76 countries, international services only account for 10 percent of its capacity, much lower than the average for an international air hub.

Because of gaps in the international route network, many Chinese passengers have to fly to Singapore, Dubai and other airports for transit. In the next few years the Capital Airport is planning to open more international routes to increase its international business.

China.org.cn has learned that, during the Route Development Forum, Beijing Capital International Airport had been involved in negotiations with 37 international airlines.

The airport also recently announced a "sister airport" arrangement with Singapore Changi Airport that will involve collaboration on airport management, air hub development, airport planning, commercial management and service quality evaluation.


Visitors walking around the exhibitive pavilions of the 15th World Route Development Forum on Sept. 14, 2009. [China.org.cn]

(China.org.cn September 16, 2009)

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