China - Country Commercial Guide

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-01-04

China is the world’s second-largest and fastest-growing civil aerospace and aviation services market. Commercial opportunities in China’s civil aerospace and aviation services markets exist in virtually every subsector.  

Airports and Ground Support Equipment Sector 

The Civil Aviation Administration of China’s (CAAC) records show that China had 241 large commercial service airports by the end of 2020, with three new airports—Yulin Fumian Airport, Yutian Wanfang Airport, and Chongqing Xiannu Airport. The annual passenger throughput in 2020 was 860 million, a decrease of 36.6% from 2019. This decrease was attributed to the impact of COVID-19. The decline in air travel was primarily in the first half of 2020 with a near-complete recovery of domestic air travel in the second half of the year. Given that post-COVID passenger travel is expected to return, the CAAC continues to construct new airports, with an expected total of 450 by 2035. 

COVID-19 restrictions on international travel bumped Shanghai Pudong Airport out of its usual spot among China’s busiest airports, as measured by passenger throughput. In 2020, China’s six busiest airports were Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen, Chongqing, Beijing, and Kunming.  

Top Six Busiest Airports in China by Passenger Throughput
Top Six Busiest Airports in China by Passenger Throughput


Source: CAAC’s 2020 Airport Operation Statistics of the People’s Republic of China

Airport Design 

As noted above, China plans to build more than 200 new airports while expanding many others in the next 15 years. Airport design is an area with good 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 airport 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 a 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 2,892 registered aircraft, 984,000 flying hours, 523 GA companies, and 339 certified GA airports as of the end of 2020, 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.  

Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) 

According to 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.

Trade Events 

  • Hunan General Aviation Industry Expo- Changsha/Zhuzhou 
  • Shanghai AirExpo
  • Zhuhai Airshow