China plans to build at least 45 new airports in the next five years to serve booming travel, the top industry regulator said Thursday.
The plans call for spending 1.5 trillion yuan ($230 billion) to expand air travel, said Li Jiaxiang, administrator of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
Some 130 of China's 175 existing airports lost money last year but Beijing will support them to boost local economic growth, Li said at a news conference.
He said incomes in farming areas have risen when airports open nearby, allowing their fruit and vegetables to be flown to more prosperous major cities.
China's fast-growing air travel market is expected to pass North America as the world's biggest in coming decades.
Li said the plans call for increasing the number of airports to at least 220 in the next five years.
He gave no indication where they would be, but Beijing is spending heavily to develop poorer areas and China's west and link them to booming eastern cities.
Civil Aviation Administration of China (in Chinese): http://www.caac.gov.cn