Guangzhou bets big on its airport economy

Updated 2017-12-21 11:00:36 China Daily
An aviation maintenance contest is held at Guangzhou Civil Aviation College.

An aviation maintenance contest is held at Guangzhou Civil Aviation College.

Billions are poured into infrastructure, logistics and other aviation sectors

Business is booming in the aircraft maintenance sector as China's civil aviation industry cruises into clear blue skies.

With one of the busiest airports in the world, Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong province, is looking to become a major aviation center.

Leading the way in the city is Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Co Ltd.

GAMECO is one of the leading players in the aviation maintenance field and plans to build a third hanger to cope with surging demand from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, or GBIA.

"Our aircraft maintenance business has been expanding rapidly," said Cao Dong, manager of strategy at the planning division of GAMECO.

The new complex will span about 340 meters with a construction area of approximately 100,000 square meters.

It will be able to accommodate six wide-body aircraft and four narrow-body planes, increasing total capacity by 70 percent to 80 percent when it is operational around 2021.

The move comes amid an aviation boom for GAMECO.

"We have been growing at an annual rate of 10 percent on average over the past decade," Cao said.

Founded in 1989, GAMECO is jointly owned by China Southern Airlines, the country's largest carrier by size of fleet, and Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa.

The airline owns more than 700 aircraft but plans to increase the size of its fleet to 1,000 by 2020.

Up to 80 percent of GAMECO's maintenance business comes from China Southern Airlines, according to Cao.

In June, the company completed a six-year major service for the airline's first A380 passenger jet. The other four A380s in the fleet are expected to go through the process within the next two years.

Normally, aircraft need to undergo checkups every 18 months and a major overhaul every six years.

But then, the expanding maintenance sector is just part of Guangzhou's three-year (2017-19) plan to promote the development of its airport economy.

About 314.5 billion yuan (.7 billion) has been poured into infrastructure, logistics and other aviation sectors.

"The aim is to create a world-class aircraft manufacturing industry chain," said Qiu Zhizhong, deputy director of Guangzhou Aerotropolis Development District.

This comes at a time when business at GBIA is growing rapidly.

Annual passenger throughput reached 59.78 million last year, making it one of the world's busiest airports.

It now hosts 70 airlines, including 44 foreign and regional carriers.

"On a global scale, more and more wide-body aircraft, like the A380, will need major checkups," Cao said.

"That is why we are making efforts to expand our international market by taking advantage of our strengths and experience," Cao added.

GAMECO plans to set up branches in Australia and New Zealand in the coming months, and extend its flight path to the United States and Europe in the future.

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