A helicopter operated by Jiangsu Huaxi General Aviation Co, the first private aviation company in China to be set up by a village. (File photo/CNS)
Dehong prefecture, located in the west of the southern Chinese province of Yunnan and previously best known for its peacocks, is developing its aviation industry.
The prefecture, with a population of more than 1.2 million, registered GDP of 17.3 billion yuan (US$2.74 billion) in 2011.
While Dehong is planning to build a new airport, a private company in the region called Ruili Jingcheng Group is planning to make major investment in the sector and will invite local governments to take a stake in the projects.
On July 29, the group spent nearly 1 billion yuan (US$158 million) to buy three airplanes. It plans to buy 12 more airplanes before October and 30 more in the next five years to pave the way for the establishment of four airline companies. The company's total investment in aviation and tourism are estimated to exceed 10 billion yuan (US$1.58 billion).
Under the company's plan, four airlines will be set up with registered capital of 600 million yuan (US$95 million), 200 million yuan (US$31.6 million), 100 million yuan (US$15.8 million) and 250 million yuan (US$39.5 million), respectively. It has taken six years for Ruili Jingcheng to chart its aviation development plan.
In April 2010, Dehong's government rolled out measures to nurture its aviation market, mainly through policy and financial support. It provided subsidies to encourage new routes and relaxed restrictions on public servants taking flights for official purposes in order to improve the efficiency of airlines and to develop the aviation industry.
Of note, Dehong, which owns the airport in Mang City, is planning to build a second airport in Longchuan county. After the second airport is built, Yunnan will have 13 civil airports.
The prefecture has triggered a fad for developing the aviation industry in other cities around the country. Huaxi in east China's Jiangsu province, dubbed the "richest village in China," recently confirmed that it had set up Jiangsu Huaxi General Aviation, the country's first village-run aviation company. Initial investments were to the tune of 100 million yuan (US$15.8 million). The company owned an AS350B3 helicopter and a MD902 helicopter when it was established in July 2011.
Meanwhile, Heilongjiang province in the country's northeast has begun to develop its air routes as part of its tourism development efforts.
August data showed that China had 46 airline companies, including 10 private companies. As of July, China had 140 enterprises, including 103 private companies, which hold general aviation licenses.