Beijing, July 21 (IANS) China will build at least 80 small airports by 2015 in the country, the aviation authority has said.
According to a recent State Council guideline, the country will build 82 small airports during the 2011-15 period.
The aim is to build an air transport network that will cater to about 90 percent of the population by 2020, China Daily reported Saturday.
However reports suggest that some 130 small airports in the country had registered a loss of over 2 billion yuan ($314 million) last year.
Li Jiaxiang, head of China's Civil Aviation Administration, told reporters that the government consider the sector as "a national strategic industry".
He said small or feeder airports, which serve cargo and short-distance flights, are indispensable to the local economic development.
Huang Min, an infrastructure director under National Development and Reform Commission, said 80 percent of the population will be able to use an airport within 100 km by 2015.
Huang said there will be 230 airports for passenger and cargo transport by the end of 2015, up from the current 182.
China lags behind many other major countries in the number of airports.
The US has about 19,000, while Brazil has about 700, according to the newspaper.
Many airports in China were built years ago and are now deemed too small, Huang said, adding plans are in place to expand at least 100 airports by 2015.
Last year, a fleet of 1,853 planes carried 290 million passengers and about 5.5 million tonnes of cargo, the daily said.