China will invest 77 billion yuan (US$11.9 billion) in building aviation infrastructure this year, the official Xinhua news agency quoted Feng Zhenglin, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), as saying.
China’s policy of expanding and modernizing aviation infrastructure at large scale continues unabated, seen by the investment plans given green light by the CAAC. According to a report in Xinhua,
the expenditure focuses on airports, encompassing 11 construction projects and 52 aviation-related upgrades to existing facilities.
"The general aviation sector, especially aircraft research and manufacturing, has become a hot spot of both industrial upgrading and social concern," Mr Feng told the news agency.
Boost for light aircraft expected
China's cabinet separately said it would support the development of the country's aviation industry and opening up low-altitude air space, an issue that constrains a fledgling market for helicopters and small aircraft. It did not provide details.
China's military controls the country's air space, and its planes have priority over civil aircraft. Special military-only zones also force other aircraft to take a longer route.
Over the last few years, Beijing has relaxed some restrictions on flights below 1,000 m (3,280 ft) - although civil aircraft still need military approval to fly through some areas.
The relaxation could boost demand for light aircraft. China had only 1,600 light aircraft and around 80 airports to handle them in 2013. It will need 10,000 light aircraft this decade to meet demand, according to some projections.
Nol van Fenema