High hopes have been crushed for a newly refurbished 6 million USD airport, which reopened in 2008 on Dachangshan Island off China’s north-east coast, yet has barely been used.
Officials planned to welcome 42,000 passengers in 2010 and another 78,000 in 2015. However, according to China’s civil aviation authority, only 4,000 passengers passed through the airport in 2013—which equates to fewer than 10 a day.
At the Changhai Airport on Dachangshan Island, all ticket counters remained deserted, except for one lonesome airport official who told Reuters reporters that the planes were under construction, and to call back in two to three days to check if any flights would be operating.
According to the report, flights from Zhoushuizi International Airport in Dalian, a nearby port city, have not operated in over six months to Dachangshan island.
It appears that ferries are the preferred mode of transport to Dalian.
However, the Dalian government remains undeterred by these low figures. Instead, it plans to spend a further 1.48 billion yuan ($238.9 million) to continue expanding the airport, meaning that by 2020 the airport will be able to accommodate 250,000 passengers.
Last year, the island received over 1.1 million tourists, so the government claims their rationale is to continue investing in order to spur the local economy and hopefully turn the fishing outpost into a holiday destination, further encouraging the island’s development.
The issue of over-investment and inefficient allocation of resources is becoming a growing concern in China.
Since February last year, China has approved at least 1.8 trillion yuan ($290 billion) in new infrastructure projects to counter a slowing economy. However, underused airports, expressways and stadiums are beginning to show the cost of China’s spending binges.
Construction firms admittedly have profited from this boom, however, China’s addiction to spending has saddled provincial governments with 3 trillion USD worth of debt.
Lu Dadao, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences has said that “there needs to be serious discussions over the economic rationality of large-scale engineering projects. Do we really need this many high-speed lines and airports?”
A government official and economist estimated in November that China has wasted an approximate 42 trillion yuan on “ineffective investment” in the five years from 2009, with the problem worsening in the last two years.
Previously on Shanghaiist:
Spooky unfinished theme park in Wuhan re-discovered by tourists
Check out these super eery photos of Chenggong, one of China’s biggest ghost towns
World’s largest mall in Guangdong province still 99% empty
By Freya Twigden
[Images via Stockarch]