In addition to the rapid growth to service to such new emerging cities, the most critical aspect is overlooked.
In Asia, particularly in China, as growth expands at a break-neck clip, the region is struggling to keep up with the amount of pilots that are required to fly the aircraft, amid a surge in middle class growth.
The region is under a massive hiring spree to find qualified pilots to meet the demand of flights across the region, however this is certainly not something that will happen over the course of the next few months or years.
Lets take a look back to November of last year, as EMerging Equity reported on China’s next “gold rush”: aviation.
China’s next gold rush? Aviation. China will need to train around 500,000 civilian pilots by 2035, the nation’s civil aviation authority says, up from a few thousand pilots now, according to a report from Reuters.
The gold rush comes as a the nation’s aviation authority looks to boost transport infrastructure by relaxing rules that will allow for private planes to fly below 1,000 meters without military approval starting in 2015, according to Reuters.
Although the new rule will not impact commercial airlines, as they fly at a much higher altitude, however the new relaxed rule will open up airspace at a much lower altitude which will pave the way for Chinese high-rollers to charter or fly their own planes versus flying commercially.
According to Reuters, there are over 200 new firms that have applied for general aviation operating licenses.
Despite the clear demand to train pilots in China, the nation’s civil aviation authority’s training facility is at a disadvantage, as it is only capable of handling up to 100 students a year, according to the report.
The remaining 12 or so aviation schools in China are “bursting at the seams”, Reuters says, adding that foreign investors are teaming up with local firms to lay out the groundwork for setting up additional courses.
Industry executives expect that Beijing will issue a detailed guideline on how it will implement its plan to open up its airspace below 1,000 meters in 2015 and expand the open skies to airspace below 3,000 meters by 2020, according to Reuters.
Over two decades ago when China’s small tropical city of Mangshi opened its city airport, which lies on the border with Myanmar, it only served a few airlines.
Now, China’s recent travel boom has changed up the climate as seven carriers brought in more than 1 million travellers in 2014.
“We had a hard time attracting airlines in the early days,” Li Ping, the deputy chief of the airport’s expansion steering committee, told Reuters. “Now we are struggling to accommodate flights.”
Mangshi is now one of more than 60 inland airports under expansion, with another 30 new regional airports being built in the region. Government planners estimate China’s airports will increase to 240 by 2020 from around 200 today.
The head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), said this week the country would invest $80 billion in aviation projects this year alone.
Amid the spike in travel, China’s new Silk Road initiative is also certain to boost traffic as the government aims to expand its economic and political influence to neighbouring countries via a network of railways, highways, and new air routes are part of the plan.
Earlier in June, China approved four additional new airports in provinces including Xinjiang and Heilongjiang, that are estimated to cost around 16.3 billion yuan ($2.63 billion).
The aviation boom is boosting sales for global suppliers Thales SA, Indra Industries, Raytheon Co , Lockheed Martin Corp and Honeywell Aerospace.
In May, Honeywell had tested its next generation GPS-based precision landing system at Shanghai’s Pudong airport.
Thales has sold 40 air traffic management (ATM) radars in China, which also supplies ATM systems to the crucial Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou sectors, in addition to several other regional airports among its client list.
“Demand for navigation systems will be on the rise as more airports are built or expanded which will also result in more demands in ATM systems as well as surveillance technologies,” Xia Jinsong, deputy chief executive officer with Thales China, told Reuters. “That means more business opportunity for us.”
In Mangshi, where passenger volume is expected to exceed the designed capacity of its airport, a more urgent issue is at hand.