The ever-expanding global transport network is the result of China's rapid socio-economic development and greater openness to the outside world.
According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), there were less than 40 airports in 1949, most of which could handle only small aircraft. That number, however, soared to 236 by the end of this June, with about seven new airports coming into operation each year in the past decade. There are 200 more on the way, as China aims to have around 450 airports by 2035, according to a guideline issued last year.
Airlines are also gearing up to expand their fleet. China owns about 3,700 civil airplanes, with around 300 new planes – equivalent to a major airline – added to the fleet each year.
Tomorrow: world's largest civil aviation market
In barely seven decades, China has evolved into the world's most dynamic aviation market. The two global gateways in the Chinese capital are good examples.
Beijing Capital International Airport, China's first airport for commercial flights, featured just one 2,500-meter-long runway and single terminal when it opened in 1958.
Last year, the airport became the first Chinese airport – and the second in the world – to touch the 100-million-passenger milestone.
It is now the second-busiest air hub in the world trailing Atlanta and is hitting full capacity, so China decided to build a second gateway in the capital to ease its pressure.
Due to open in late September, the state-of-the-art Daxing airport is expected to handle 100 million passengers by 2040, when it is likely to surpass Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the United States to become the world's largest in terms of passenger traffic.