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China to spend billions on aviation expansion

Air China MunichBEIJING: China's official news agency Xinhua reports the country will spend US$81.8 billion on 193 aviation projects in 2015 in a bid to boost economic growth.

Li Jiaxiang, director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said aviation development in the next five years would focus on Xi'an and Urumqi in the west of the country, southwestern Nanning and Kunming, and Xiamen on the east coast.

"In the past two years, China [has] built 15 airports and expanded another 28 in provinces along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative," said Li, referring to the 'Silk Road Economic Belt' and '21st century Maritime Silk Road' proposed by China in 2013 for improved cooperation with countries in Asia, Europe and Africa.

The aviation head also said Chinese airlines would add 83 international routes this year bringing the total to 636 connecting 51 countries.

Another CAAC official, deputy director Zhou Laizhen, is reported by Xinhua to have announced a possible merger between Air China Cargo, China Cargo Airlines and China Southern Cargo – the last having just begun twice-weekly B777 freighter flights linking Guangzhou with London, Stansted.

China Cargo Airlines, like China Southern a member of SkyTeam Cargo, is a joint venture between China Eastern and the China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO).

Air China Cargo is a joint venture between Air China and Cathay Pacific. Last year the two shareholders agreed to increase the share capital of their subsidiary by ¥2 billion to ¥5.235 billion.

No date for the three-airline merger was announced.

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