At a recent meeting of the Fourth Aviation and Tourism Promotion Conference held in Dehong (德宏), it was announced that Yunnan is aiming at speeding up its civil aviation and tourism development over the next four years. The stated goal is to establish the province as a "regional aviation center" by opening flights to more country capitals, as well as major tourist cities across Southeast and South Asia.
Zhou Kai (周凯), chairman of the Yunnan Airport Group, told reporters, "We strive for new breakthroughs in developing [the province's] international aviation market this year." This will be accomplished, Zhou explained, via a "dual hub" initiative involving development cooperation between the airport groups of both Yunnan and Shanghai, which will work to "reshape China's aviation networks by facilitating tourist entries into China's eastern seaboard, with exits from the west".
To this end, direct flights from Kunming to Australia, transit flights to the United States, and chartered flights to Egypt are expected to commence this year. Zhang Wu'an (张武安), spokesperson for budget carrier Spring Airlines, said international flights from Kunming to the South Asian cities of Mumbai and Colombo, as well as those from Kunming to northeast Asian cities including Okinawa, Osaka, Hokkaido and Jeju, are already on the company's agenda.
Additionally, in terms of upgrading transit services, Yunnan Airport Group plans to launch free lodging services for overnight transit passengers, offer free storage lockers to passengers with long layover times, provide free round-trip airport express tickets, and organize one-day Kunming city tours and other services and products. The group will also accelerate its airport express development to connect the airport with more surrounding cities. Expanding the province's network of smaller airports is also a primary concern and according to Zhou:
In five years, we plan to build five new airports in Lancang, Cangyuan, Honghe, Yuanyang and Qiubei, and complete pre-construction work for the Mongla and Xuanwei airports. Cangyuan Airport is expected to go into use this year, and a feasibility study on the site selection for Nujiang Airport is also underway. Therefore, Yunnan will have 14 [small-scale] civilian airports in the near future.
During the Dehong aviation conference, it was also announced that Colorful Yunnan General Aviation will come into operation this year. With an initial investment of 1.5 billion yuan (US$231 million), the new air carrier aims at developing short-haul flight options as a supplement to current public transportation alternatives in Yunnan. By 2020, the province is expected to have a rather hectic air space with 50 airports — among them 20 Class I facilities designed to accommodate traffic of more than 3,000 flights annually.
Editor's note: A version of this article was originally published on website Yunnan Express. It is reprinted here with permission.
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