Country needs to enhance air freight services: Economic expert

Ezhou: The novel coronavirus pandemic has exposed China’s lack of cargo-only airports and aircraft, an official with the National Development and Reform commission, the top economic planner, said on Sunday.
The country’s first specialized cargo airport is under construction in Ezhou, Hubei province, meaning there’s no such facility in use at the height of the outbreak, according to Ren Hong, a senior official with commission’s department for infrastructure development.
Ren said China had seen rapid progress of airport construction, but admitted the development was lopsided.
The passenger volume at China’s 235 airports last year reached 1.35 billion, a 6.9 percent growth year-on-year, but the cargo volume grew only 2.1 percent year-on-year last year, reaching 17.1 million metric tons, Ren told a news conference in Beijing.
“The figures show China is still at the early stage of cargo airport development,” she said.
Besides, there are only 173 cargo aircraft in service in China, compared with more than 550 in the United States, and the cargo aircraft account for only 4.5 percent of the nation’s civil aviation fleet.
Some 49 percent of the China’s international cargo volume was accomplished using bellies of passenger planes, and the ratio was higher at 82 percent domestically, she said.
The rise of e-commerce and logistics service in recent years has put Chinese airports to test, and the epidemic has laid bare the shortcomings of limited air cargo facilities, she said.
That has prompt China to speed up the building of such facilities in places with market potentials in its next Five-Year Plan period, she added.
China’s first cargo airport in Ezhou — designed to handle 3.3 million tons of freight by 2030 — has started construction last year. Though affected by the epidemic, the airport is expected to be put into use in late 2021 or early 2022, Ren said.
– The Daily Mail-China Daily News exchange item