China will focus on expanding domestic flights and restoring international air travel from 2023-2025, the country’s aviation regulator said on Friday, as it issued a new five-year development plan for a sector battered by Covid disruptions.
China‘s domestic air traffic is faltering due to a zero-Covid policy of stamping out virus clusters quickly regardless of the economic cost. The approach has taken on extra urgency in the run-up to the Winter Olympics, to be staged in Beijing and with the Lunar New Year holiday travel season beginning later this month.
Taking into account the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2021-2025 five-year plan has been divided into two parts, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) says.
For the 2021-2022 period, China will consolidate its efforts in pandemic control and prevention, as well as focusing on reforms and specifying more support measures, so that “developmental momentum” can be unlocked later.
Then the period from 2023 to 2025 would be a period of growth, the CAAC said.
“The focus is to expand the domestic market, restore the international market, release the impact from reforms and improve the level of opening up.”
China will aim to have over 270 civil airports by 2025, according to the CAAC. That compared with 241 civil airports by the end of 2020.
It is also aiming to bring down CO2 emissions per tonne-kilometres to 0.853 grams by 2025, from 0.948 grams in 2020.
• Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard