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There’s no doubt that China’s airline industry is growing. In 2015, three mainland Chinese airports were in the top 20 busiest airports in the world. Along the way, there have been growing pains. Long tarmac delays, flight cancellations and unruly passengers have seemingly become the norm. Reports show just an 68.87% on-time record for Chinese flights in July 2016 — which sounds bad until you read that this is a massive 12.88-point improvement over the previous July.
Boeing doesn’t see any slowdown in the near future. According to a report that surfaced yesterday, Boeing expects Chinese airlines to purchase $1.025 trillion in planes over the next 20 years. Of the estimated 6,810 aircraft purchases, three quarters are expected to be single-aisle aircraft designed for regional flights.
Over the same 20 years, Boeing expects Chinese passenger traffic to grow about 6.4% annually. While that might not seem like much growth, consider that the worldwide passenger growth forecast is just 3.8% annually over the same period. Without the strong growth in China — which is expected to surpass the US in passenger traffic during this time — the worldwide growth would be tamped down even more.
What does this mean for you? Pack some extra patience when flying to or through Chinese airports. While on-time percentages have been improving, the consistent growth in passengers is going to test an already strained system. Plan for delays and long lines, and make sure not to schedule tight layovers.
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