Although the industry is not often recognized as being a global contributor in North America or Europe because of the presence of Boeing and Airbus, the China aircraft industry is big, growing, and thriving. The country’s first large jetliner took its maiden flight in 2017, performing test maneuvers in the skies over Shanghai, and looks to threaten the dominance of the other two manufacturers for the global industry.
There’s a reason why aircraft manufacturing is a top priority for the Chinese government and their overall economy. More than 487 million people flew on domestic or international flights originating in China in 2016. The number of people served have grown by 12% annually since 2015.
As the middle class in China grows, so does their spending. The 1.4 billion people in China creates a market that is expected to exceed the aircraft industry in the United States, the largest in the world, by 2030.
Interesting China Aircraft Industry Statistics
#1. Over the next 20 years, the China aircraft industry requires 5,100 new airplanes that are of the same size of the C919 (the first Chinese aircraft) to meet the expected market demands. The C919 offers 168 passenger seats, making it legitimate competition for Boeing’s 737 and the Airbus A320. (CNN)
#2. There are currently 55 airlines serving the Chinese market right now. The domestic airlines are expected to be the primary buyers of the C919 aircraft, as almost every order for the plane originates from a domestic airline. China Eastern Airlines is expected to be the first carrier operating the C919 after it secures final approval. (CNN)
#3. There are only 8 countries in the world which have developed larger airliners as a domestic industry. The China aircraft industry joins the United States, Brazil, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Canada on this elite list. (CNN)
#4. In 2015, over 30% of the flights that were scheduled by the Chinese aircraft industry were delayed. (CNN)
#5. There are 28 airports in China which have the capability of handling traffic levels in excess of 10 million people. Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou currently handle about 26% of the total passenger movements directed toward mainland China. (U.S. Department of Commerce)
#6. The China aircraft industry currently has 224 general aviation companies earning revenues, with over 2,500 general aviation pilots serving passengers and cargo. There are only 20 pilot training schools in the country, however, which is why the industry wants 500 schools operational by 2020. (U.S. Department of Commerce)
#7. Beijing saw 90 million air travelers come through its airport in 2015, while the two airports in Shanghai served a combined total of 100 million air travelers. (U.S. Department of Commerce)
#8. The China aircraft industry imported $2.19 billion in aircraft parts and components, with 30% of their purchases involving products exported by the United States. (U.S. Department of Commerce)
#9. 70% of the airspace over China is strictly governed by the Chinese military. That is the single greatest factor which limits the development of the general aviation industry within the country. Their airspace classification system doesn’t segment the generalized activities. (U.S. Department of Commerce)
#10. There were over 1,400 general aviation aircraft associated with the Chinese industry at the end of 2016. By 2020, the government hopes to have a minimum of 5,000 aircraft available for use. (U.S. Department of Commerce)
#11. China has a fleet of 700 helicopters, most of which were built outside the country. (U.S. Department of Commerce)
#12. The China aircraft industry currently offers more than 1,000 different air routes which use market-oriented price setting systems. In 2018, an additional 300+ routes had their ticket prices adjusted to market forces, based on structures provided by the Chinese government. (China Daily)
#13. The civil aviation industry in China saw an 11.2% increase in the number of flight hours registered in 2017. Total flying time for the industry topped 10 million hours for the first time as well, up more than 70% from 2012 figures. (China Daily)
#14. The average debt level in U.S. Dollars for the three primary air companies experienced a 10% decrease in 2017 over figures from the year before. (China Daily)
#15. China has been the second-largest aircraft industry in the world for 12 consecutive years in 2018, with only the U.S. market being larger. (China Daily)
#16. Total passenger traffic (including takeoffs and landings) totaled 1.1 billion people in 2017, which was 12.9% higher than the previous year. (Civil Aviation Administration of China)
#17. Over 27 million passengers were carried on routes which linked mainland China with Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan in 2017, which was a decrease of almost 2% from the previous year. (Civil Aviation Administration of China)
#18. Over 111 million passengers were transported on international routes by the China aircraft industry in 2017, which was a 9.2% increase over 2016 figures. (Civil Aviation Administration of China)
#19. More than 10.2 million aircraft movements were handled by the industry, reflecting growth of about 11%. Over 90% of the movements, however, were for domestic needs. (Civil Aviation Administration of China)
#20. Over 16 million tons of cargo were handled in China in 2017, a 7% increase from the year before. About 10 million tons were transported on domestic routes, including about 1 million tons that went to Macao, Hong Kong, and Taiwan from the mainland. (Civil Aviation Administration of China)
#21. East China receives 41% of the cargo and mail traffic handled by the China aircraft industry, which leads all regions. Central and South China receive 26% of the activities, while northern China receives 15%. (Civil Aviation Administration of China)
China Aircraft Industry Trends and Analysis
China is the second-largest civil aviation market in the world today. It’s also one of the fastest growing segments of its type. The growth experienced by the China aircraft industry has reached double-digit percentages for several years in a row and nothing seems to be slowing it down. With the introduction of a domestically-produced aircraft, there appears to be a third major manufacturer of aircraft and components about to enter the market.
Until the C919 receives final approval, however, the primary growth and revenues earned by the industry will continue to be found in passenger and cargo movements.
Despite its size already, in the next 10 years, this industry will continue working to become the largest of its type in the world. With a population size four times that of the United States, it is only a matter of time before the innovative ideas found in the China aircraft industry make it a dominant force in the world of aviation.
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