December 11, 2018 / 4:32 AM / 6 months ago

China aims to have 450 airports by 2035: aviation regulator

Construction workers work outside the terminal building of Beijing's new international airport during a media tour, in Daxing district, Beijing, China October 26, 2018. China Daily via REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - China aims to have 450 airports by 2035, almost doubling its current number of airports as part of the country’s ambition to build itself into an aviation power, its aviation regulator said.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) made the forecast on Monday, according to a report by the CAAC News which is affiliated to the regulator. As of end-October, China had 234 civil airports, according to state media.

China is expected to overtake the United States as the world’s largest aviation market in the next decade as an expanding middle class and government support for the sector fuel demand for flights and airport construction.

In the meantime, Chinese policymakers are also hoping that a rebound in infrastructure investment could provide a boost to the economy that is expanding at the weakest pace since the global financial crisis with analysts expect further softening in coming months.

The state council said in October that the country would ramp up investment in infrastructure such as railways, highways and airports to spur domestic demand.

Fixed-asset investment growth, a key driver of China’s economy, is hovering around record lows after Beijing put many projects on hold due to concerns over rising debt.

The CAAC also said it was expecting air passenger traffic will account for over a third of total traffic in the country.

Reporting by Stella Qiu and Brenda Goh; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

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