• The Beijing International Airport is undergoing development and expansion plans.

The Beijing International Airport is undergoing development and expansion plans. (Photo : www.traveltradehub.com)

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) will allocate up to 500 billion yuan ($80 billion) for 193 large and medium aviation development projects by the end of this year to improve air connectivity to economies under the "Belt and Road" initiatives, the Business Herald reported.

At the opening session of the China Civil Aviation Development Forum held June 24-25 in Beijing, CAAC director Li Jiaxiang said that in line with the Belt and Road plans, the government will start building regional air hubs in Xi'an, Nanning, Kunming, Urumqi, and Xiamen, as well as enhance the development of international aviation hubs in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

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According to Li, a total of 15 new airports are currently under construction or set to be built in provinces or regions along the New Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, in addition to expansion undertaken in 28 airports.

The CAAC statistics showed that the 500-billion-yuan civil aviation investment for 2015 indicates a drastic increase of 68.77 billion yuan ($11.06 billion) in 2011; 146.46 billion yuan ($23.57 billion) in 2012; and 145.22 billion yuan ($23.37 billion) in 2013. The increase was due mainly to the 51 strategic investment projects directly serving the Belt and Road ($32.19 billion) initiatives.

The report said that construction of new airports and the expansion of existing airports will account for huge share of the investment fund.

This year, the National Development and Reform Commission has approved an 80-billion-yuan budget ($12.87 billion) for a new airport in Beijing, Beijing Daxing International Airport, and another 69.2 billion yuan ($9.52 billion) for a new international airport in Chengdu in Sichuan Province. The two projects account for 30 percent of the 500-billion-yuan budget.

According to the report, the expansion projects being undertaken in airports in Guangzhou, Chongqing, Haikou, Xi'an, Lanzhou, Changsha and Qingdao are mainly for the construction of new runways or new terminal buildings, each costing billions of yuan.

Construction of new minor regional airports is also underway, including in Shache and Ruoqiang in Xinjiang Autonomous Region, Wudalianchi in Helongjiang Province, Ulanqab in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Longnan in Gansu Province, Renhuai in Guizhou Province, Lancang in Yunnan Province, and Guoluo in Qinghai Province, estimated to cost over 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in total.

Li added that the Belt and Road initiatives will also expand business opportunities for the aviation industry as well as attract investment in aviation infrastructure projects. He said that China now has the world's second-largest air transportation system, with 52 airlines, 202 airports and 533 international flight routes linking 48 cities in China. The network will provide China with a solid foundation to further expand internationally.

According to CAAC statistics, China's international airline firms have launched 131 new international routes in 2014, with plans to add 83 more this summer and autumn.

The report added that 24 new flight routes from countries along the Belt and Road initiatives will open to China this year, with four countries to operate flights to China for the first time ever.