China will invest over CNY1.5 trillion yuan (USD$232 billion) in the aviation industry in the next five years and will push consolidation among airlines to hone their international competitiveness, the official Shanghai Securities News reported on Monday.
It also cited Li Jiaxiang, head of industry watchdog the Civil Aviation Administration of China, as saying that the country would institute favourable tax policies to help domestic airlines open new international passenger and cargo routes.
Li also said that China's three biggest carriers, Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, were still too small in scale compared with global rivals.
"Via government guidance and market operations, we must push ahead industry consolidation to form, as soon as possible, two or three airline companies with wide networks that are strongly competitive internationally," Li said.
Citing a cabinet circular to support aviation industry development expected to be announced later this year, the paper also quoted Li as saying that China would build more regional airports, especially in the less-developed western region.
The industry regulator has said that China will add more than 45 airports over the next five years, bringing the total to more than 220.
State media has also reported that Chinese airlines are expected to nearly double the size of their fleet to 5,000 jets by 2015, to meet robust demand for air travel in the world's fastest-growing major aviation market.