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China to boost air transport capacity

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BEIJING, June 11 (Xinhua) -- China will build more airports and expand airline fleets, as the number of air trips in the country is expected to double by 2020, a top civil aviation official said Monday.

Chinese will make 700 million air trips in 2020, as the civil aviation industry will maintain strong growth momentum over the next one or two decades, according to Li Jiaxiang, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

China will have over 240 airports for civil aviation use by 2020, up from 180 in 2011, while 100 existing airports are planned to be renovated or expanded in the 2011-2015 period, Li said at an annual conference of the International Air Transport Association.

In 2015, the number of airports for civil aviation use will exceed 230, with passengers set to reach 450 million, Li added.

He projected the country's number of passenger planes to reach 2,700 by the end of 2015, up from 1,764 at the end of 2011.

China's civil aviation industry lags behind in infrastructure and capacity and major airports are running at full capacity, Li noted.

Meanwhile, Chinese airlines will see their international markets overshadowed by the worsening European sovereignty debt crisis and growing downside risks in the world economy, said Wang Changshun, chairman of Air China, the country's flagship carrier.

China's civil aviation industry had 500.1 billion yuan (79 billion U.S. dollars) in revenues in 2011, up 21.2 percent from 2010, according to CAAC figures.

However, profits in 2011 dropped 13.9 percent year on year to 36.3 billion yuan as passenger flow slowed and jet fuel costs increased, the figures showed.

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