China operates two aircraft carriers, the Liaoning and the Shandong. However, specific information regarding the total number of passengers carried by these aircraft carriers annually is not publicly available. It’s important to note that aircraft carriers primarily serve as platforms for military operations and are not used for commercial passenger transportation like civilian airlines.
Regarding the total aviation industry in China, it has experienced significant growth in recent years. In 2019, the total economic output of China’s aviation industry was estimated to be around 1.6 trillion Chinese yuan (approximately 244 billion U.S. dollars). This includes various sectors such as commercial airlines, aircraft manufacturing, air transportation services, and airport operations.
As for the number of approximate flights each year in China, according to data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), there were over 660 million passenger flights in 2019. This figure encompasses both domestic and international flights operated by Chinese airlines. The number of flights can vary each year due to factors such as airline schedules, travel demand, and global events.
China’s Aircraft Carriers
The Liaoning, commissioned in 2012, is China’s first aircraft carrier. It is a refurbished Soviet-era Kuznetsov-class carrier that was originally built for the Soviet Navy. The Liaoning serves as a training platform for China’s naval aviation and has been involved in various operations and exercises, showcasing China’s growing naval capabilities.
The Shandong, commissioned in 2019, is China’s second aircraft carrier. It is a domestically-built carrier based on the design and lessons learned from the Liaoning. The Shandong represents China’s progress in indigenous aircraft carrier construction and enhances its naval power projection capabilities in the region.
Fujian (under construction)
China is currently building its third aircraft carrier, the Fujian, which is expected to be commissioned in 2024. The Fujian is likely to incorporate technological advancements and lessons learned from the Liaoning and Shandong, further strengthening China’s naval capabilities and expanding its ability to project power beyond its immediate region.
China’s pursuit of aircraft carriers signifies its growing ambition to assert itself as a maritime power. These carriers enable China to extend its operational reach, safeguard its national interests, and potentially influence regional dynamics, particularly in the contested waters of the South China Sea. As China continues to develop its naval capabilities, the aircraft carriers play a crucial role in supporting its military modernization and expanding its strategic influence.