China is the world’s second largest civil aerospace and aviation services market. Commercial opportunities in China’s civil aerospace and aviation services markets exist in most subsectors.
Airports and Ground Support Equipment Sector
The Civil Aviation Administration of China’s (CAAC) records show that China had 248 transport airports by the end of 2021, with seven new airports in operation—Jinzhou Airport in Hubei, Jiujiang Airport in Jiangxi, Heze Airport in Shandong, Wuhu Airport in Anhui, Chengdu Tianfu Airport in Sichuan, Binzhou Airport in Hunan and Shaoguan Airport in Guangdong. The annual passenger throughput in 2021 was 907 million, an increase of 5.9% from 2020 (860 million in 2020) recovering to 67.1% of pre-COVID19 throughput in 2019. According to CAAC, China plans to expand domestic flights and restore international air travel from 2023-2025. Given that post-COVID passenger travel is expected to return, the CAAC continues to construct new airports, with an expected total of 270 by 2025.
In 2018 - 2021, China’s ten busiest airports were in Beijing, Shanghai (Pudong & Hongqiao), Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Kunming, Xi’an, Chongqing and Hangzhou in terms of passenger throughput.
Source: CAAC’s 2018 - 2021 Airport Operation Statistics of the People’s Republic of China
As noted above, China plans to build over 20 new airports while expanding many others in the next 3 years. Airport design is an area with opportunities for U.S. companies. The CAAC has identified three regions where the majority of new airports will be built or expanded:
- Nanjing, Hangzhou, Wenzhou, Hefei, and Ningbo (Yangtze River Delta region)
- Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Zhenjiang, Foshan, and Shaoguan (Pearl River Delta region)
- Chongqing, Chengdu, and Kunming city cluster
Airport Safety Solutions
Chinese airports, focused on improving safety and security, are now frequently adopting security management systems (SeMSs). As a result, market opportunities exist for U.S. companies in security screening and detection equipment, access control systems, and airport fire and emergency equipment, among others.
Green and Smart Airport Systems
China is upgrading its airports to be greener, smarter, and more sustainable. Operators seek strategies and solutions that allow for sustained aviation growth while also reducing costs and environmental impacts over time. Market opportunities for U.S. companies include energy conservation equipment, airport heating and cooling systems, rainwater collection, efficient building materials and systems, airport systems integration, remote operations control, and big data and digital solutions.
Ground Support Equipment (GSE)
Given the rapid expansion of air travel, Chinese airports are making significant investments to increase the efficiency and safety of airport operations. As a result, there is growing demand for quality GSE in every aspect of aircraft and passenger/cargo servicing. Market opportunities for U.S. companies include alternative fuel vehicles, tugs and tractors, container loaders and transporters, air start units, pushbacks, belt loaders, de/anti-icing vehicles, snow removal equipment, and aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles.
General Aviation (GA)
General aviation (GA) is another significant market opportunity in China. Although most of the air space in China is controlled by the military, the government has committed to gradually open access to low-altitude airspace and streamline the examination, approval, and record-keeping requirements for GA flights. In December 2020, Central China’s Hunan Province became the country’s first province for all-area, low-altitude flights, marking a major step in China’s long-term development plan for its domestic civil aviation industry. China has many remote areas with limited transportation infrastructure where GA can be a cost-effective solution for the movement of goods and people. Since 2016, China has seen stable growth in its GA sector, with its fleet having reached 3,018 registered GA aircraft, 599 GA companies, and 370 certified GA airports as of the end of 2021, according to statistics from the CAAC. Growth prospects are strong in several GA areas including short-distance commuting, tourism, leisure and sports, pilot training, emergency management, oil and gas, land surveying, forestry, and news broadcasting. There is also strong demand for small aircraft, fixed base operators, communication systems, runway safety, aircraft cabin components, and maintenance equipment. By 2021, Chinese registered pilots’ licenses reached 76,236 of which only 6,000 were held by private and sports license pilots. There is an increasing demand for pilot training and aircrafts and simulators for training purposes.
Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO)
According to international consulting firm Oliver Wyman’s MRO Market Economic Assessment, China is expected to become the largest air travel market in the world by 2030, which will drive 10.5% annual growth in China’s MRO market this decade. The report forecasts China’s MRO market to reach $23.1 billion by 2030. All segments of the MRO market in China are expected to grow, with the component and engine repair segments expected to expand most rapidly. Opportunities within the components segment include wheels, brakes, auxiliary power units, and avionics systems.
Hunan General Aviation Industry Expo- Changsha/Zhuzhou