As China invests more money to meet the surging demand, its civil aviation fleet will nearly double to 5,000 planes in five years, the Chinese state media said on Friday.
The country is expected to have 4,800 to 5,000 aircraft to transport passengers and cargo by 2015 from the current 2,600 planes, the China Daily reported, citing Li Jiaxiang, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
The civil aviation industry has been growing 17.2 percent annually since 1978, the report said. "Our forecast, based on industry trends as well as the surging social and economic demand for air transport, shows the speed of development will remain this way for a long period," Li was quoted as saying.
With the country's economy roaring ahead on near double-digit growth, increasingly affluent Chinese people are travelling a lot more often. Li expected 450 million to 500 million air passenger trips would be made annually by 2015, compared to the 230 million in 2009. The CAAC has also aimed to further expand that target to 1.5 billion by 2030, according to the report.
The aviation sector however, faces stiff competition from the country's rapidly expanding railway network, which offers travellers cheaper tickets and convenience with stations closer to city centres than most airports. The railway authority said in July, that China would spend about 120 billion dollars to nearly double the country's high-speed rail network to 13,000 kilometres by 2012.