FIVE STARS: A China's Hainan Airlines plane lands in Toronto, Canada. Hainan Airlines has become the first Chinese airline to receive a five-star rating (ZOU ZHENG)
Two Chinese airlines recently received a new set of wings from Skytrax, a prestigious international airline performance evaluation organization—Hainan Airlines received a five-star rating and China Southern Airlines received a four-star rating. Hainan is now the seventh airline in the world to receive a fifth star from Skytrax.
Li Jiaxiang, Minister of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (WEI YAO)
Skytrax ranks airlines based on evaluations of their front-line products and service quality, including airport lounges, passenger transfers, in-flight service and cabin amenities.
China's civil aviation industry as a whole has experienced rapid growth over the course of the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10), according to a series of figures released by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) at a recent press conference held by the State Council Information Office.
Safer and stronger
Safety levels for the Chinese civil aviation industry have notably improved in recent years, said Li Jiaxiang, Minister of the CAAC. During the 11th Five-Year Plan period, the accumulated transport flight time by civil aviation reached 20.36 million hours with 9.76 million aircraft movements, up 95 percent and 81 percent, respectively, over the previous Five-Year Plan (2001-05). The number of major accidents per million movements was 0.1, against the world average of 0.5; and the rate of passenger fatalities per 100 million km was 0.003, against the world average of 0.009.
Over the past five years, the punctuality rate of China's civil aviation industry has been on par with the world current average rate of 80 percent.
According to CAAC figures, China's air fleet now exceeds 2,600 aircraft, a net increase of more than 700 over five years ago, and the total number of routes exceeds 1,880, or 623 more from the end of 2005.
By the end of last year, 43 airlines had acquired their public air transport business license, including 35 state-controlled companies and eight private ones. Among these airlines, 16 are joint ventures and five publicly listed companies.
Last year, the whole industry realized total air traffic of 53.6 billion ton-km and carried 267 million passengers and 5.57 million tons of cargo and mail, up 105 percent, 93 percent and 82 percent, respectively, from 2005.
The passenger load factor and load factor of the Chinese civil aviation industry hit 80 percent and 71 percent, a rise of 8.5 percentage points and 6 percentage points, respectively, from those of 2005.
From 2006 to 2010, Chinese airlines carried more than 1 billion passengers. Beijing Capital International Airport is now the world's second largest airport in terms of the passenger capacity, while Shanghai Pudong International Airport ranks third worldwide in terms of cargo transport. Among all Chinese airports, 16 have a passenger turnover exceeding 10 million, against seven in 2005.
Over the past five years, China has invested a total of 1 trillion yuan ($151.98 billion) in its civil aviation industry. Currently there are 175 licensed transport airports nationwide.
Between 2006 and 2010, China built 33 new airports, retrofitted or extended another 33, relocated four, and renovated or revamped 41 other airports. In addition, 11 airports are currently under construction across the country.
Li said during the 11th Five-Year Plan period, the civil aviation industry also increased investment in areas with underdeveloped transportation facilities. The 33 newly built airports, all regional ones located mostly in underdeveloped areas, have effectively improved the transportation and promoted the social and economic development of these localities.
CAAC figures show that during the 11th Five-Year Plan period, the Chinese civil aviation industry realized the fastest recovery from the financial crisis, the most rapid growth and the biggest yield in the global civil aviation market. In 2010, the Chinese civil aviation industry reaped 43.7 billion yuan ($6.64 billion) in total profits, a record high, with airlines earning 35.1 billion yuan ($5.33 billion), accounting for 60 percent of the global total airline profits.
"With the rapid development of China's civil aviation industry, the demand for aircraft and airport facilities has increased greatly, presenting a perfect opportunity for the country to balance its foreign trade," Li said.