China plans to spend as much as 71.9 billion yuan ($11 billion) on a second airport in the southwestern city of Chengdu to help meet growing demand for air travel in the world’s second-biggest economy.
The proposed facility will have three runways, one of them as long as 4,000 meters (2.5 miles), according to a statement posted on the website of the National Reform and Development Commission Monday. Once the airport is built, Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan province, will become the third Chinese city to have two airports after Beijing and Shanghai.
The plan was approved last year and comes under the country’s 13th five-year economic program, which aims to build at least 50 new airports by 2020 and almost double the facilities to about 400 by 2030. As rising incomes and cheaper fuel make air travel more affordable, authorities are looking to upgrade airports in six smaller cities, including Chengdu, to function as international hubs alongside Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
Chengdu’s Shuangliu International Airport, where Air China has a secondary hub, was the nation’s fourth-busiest in 2015, with passenger throughput increasing 12 percent to 42.2 million, according to statistics from the Civil Aviation Administration of China. It’s an important gateway to western China, with British Airways, KLM and Japan’s ANA Holdings among foreign carriers with direct flights.
By 2025, the proposed airport in Chengdu will see 40 million passenger trips annually, the country’s highest-level economic planner said in the statement.
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