The Civil Aviation Administration of China has committed $223 million to subsidize the operation of 175 small to medium-sized airports next year as part of Beijing’s effort to encourage connectivity in its western and northeast regions. An estimated 75 to 80 percent of the country’s airports lose money every year due to a paucity of traffic.
According to CAA official Lu Bian, the airports generally fail to make a profit due to their remote locations and a limited number of flights. “Another factor could be because of the provincial government’s decision to build an airport just to reflect its city’s status irrespective of whether it would be [financially] feasible,” Lu said.
As part of the plan to improve links with the western and other remote regions in the country, the government plans to build another 200 airports between 2020 and 2035. Lu noted that much of the construction will take place in obscure cities and districts. An estimated 115 airports will fall into the small to medium-sized category.
China this year expects its airports to handle a total of 1.35 billion passengers, amounting to an increase of 10.7 percent over the previous year.