BEIJING, May 6 -- To meet the growing demand of air
travel and cargo transportation, airlines in China plan to channel a huge amount
of funds to double the handling capacity of their fleet within in the next five
Gao Hongfeng, vice-minister
of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said that mainland Chinese
airlines would increase their combined fleets to 1,580 airplanes from the
current 863 airliners by 2010.
|An Air China Boeing 747 aircraft takes off
from Beijing's international airport April 20, 2006. [newsphoto]
And by 2025, the fleets can be expanded to 4,000
aircraft, a big jump from around 500 in 2000 in the mainland. "The expectation
is based on the robust growth of the domestic travel market," said Gao.
He predicted that the mainland's domestic air travel
market will grow by 14 per cent annually until 2010, and from 2011-20, the
annual growth rate will be around 11 per cent.
Twenty-seven airlines on the Chinese mainland last
year handled 138 million passengers, up 15.5 per cent from the previous year.
There has also been an increase of 3.06 million tons of cargo, up 13.8 per cent
of the same year.
Airplane giants Boeing and Airbus are also upbeat
about China's purchasing ability in aircrafts in the coming years. Boeing
predicts China will need 2,600 new airplanes over the next two decades, which
will be worth approximately US$213 billion.
And by 2024, China's fleets will have 3,200 airplanes
in service, according to Boeing, whose estimate is lower than CAAC's 4,000 by
George Liu, Boeing China's vice-president of
communications, told China Daily that Boeing's goal is to keep its market share
in China for many years to come. As of December 2005, 542 or 61 per cent of the
888 commercial jetliners operating on the Chinese mainland were Boeing
Vice-Premier Wu Yi signed the Chinese
order in early April for 80 Boeing 737s (worth US$5.2 billion). The company's
China operation executives are still trying to sell more to match, and hopefully
exceed, its last year's record of 120 aircrafts. Boeing's 2005 sales in China
were around US$11.8 billion.
He said 12 per cent of the company's 2005 global
sales would grow. "China is and will remain Boeing's most important and largest
overseas market for years to come and that will create more quality jobs for
American designing engineers, test pilots and assembly line workers," Liu said.
The company's next step in its China sales campaign,
Liu said, is to "pitch in the efforts to offer more twin-aisle and long-range
aircraft to Chinese airlines."
A CAAC report released in the end of 2005 also
predicted China would need to purchase new long-range, twin-aisle aircraft as it
became a destination for a growing number of international travellers. Moreover,
Chinese people were taking more frequent overseas trips, said the report.
Boeing's rival Airbus, based in Toulouse, France,
also believed in the great market potential of big aircraft in China.
A report offered by Airbus China's communication
department cited that China needs at least 200 large airplanes such as the
555-seat Airbus A380, the biggest passenger aircraft to date, in the next 20
China Southern Airlines has already ordered five A380
aircrafts, which are to be delivered by the end of 2007. These have been ordered
ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.
In addition, Air China, China Eastern Airlines and
other carriers are upgrading and expanding their fleets of Airbus and Boeing.
Airbus has steadily ramped up its fleet in China with
a market share increasing from 7 per cent in 1995 to 34 per cent in 2005. But
its US rival, Boeing, still holds most of the rest of the market. "We aim to
dominate half of China's market by 2013," the Airbus report
(Source: China Daily)