The head of China’s Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) said recently that he would like to see a general-purpose aviation airport in each of China’s 2,800 counties as this would improve their infrastructure and economies.<!–more–>
The remark by Li Jiaxiang at an event held by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China on March 11 raised questions about the source of funding for airport expansion and whether the proposed plan would attract private investment.
Li did not offer any details but gave only an outline of his vision for aviation development in China, according to Guangzhou’s 21st Century Business Herald.
The newspaper said China’s CAA plans to expand the country’s aviation infrastructure by constructing more than 2,000 general-purpose airports by 2030.
To facilitate the plan, the CAA last year began to give local aviation bodies the authority to oversee the development of general-purpose airports, incorporating facilities for specialized services such as agriculture, construction, photography, surveying, observation and patrol and search and rescue.
Experts in the aviation industry said barriers have been lowered for the development plan and that the challenges ahead include airspace restrictions and a shortage of funds.
The newspaper said it costs up to 2-3 billion yuan (US$322.8-484.2 million) on average to build a general-purpose airport.
Li said that the CAA has been studying ways to facilitate the development of such airports through regulation, locating funding and creating favorable government policies.
In 2013, China began offering subsidies to businesses that operate general-purpose airports.
Last year, the CAA gave a total of 210 million yuan (US$33.9 million) in subsidies to 79 such businesses, with five of the operators receiving more than 10 million yuan (US$1.6 million) each.