The international aviation fuel forum was held in Shanghai on Nov 9, 2019. [Photo by Feng Yongbin / chinadaily.com.cn]

Despite the slowdown in the growth rate of aviation fuel consumption in China, the country will still be the major driver of the global aviation fuel market, experts said at an international aviation fuel forum held during the second China International Import Expo.

Also released at the forum was the China Jet Fuel Consumption Index, jointly compiled by China National Aviation Fuel Group Limited and the Beijing-based Academy of Macroeconomics Research. According to the index, China’s aviation fuel consumption increased 4.7 percent during the first nine months of the year. The growth rate has contracted 3.5 percentage points from a year earlier.

Wu Xiaohua, vice president of the Academy of Macroeconomic Research, said global economic slowdown, which has impaired consumer income expectations and commercial activities, has led to contracted growth in aviation fuel consumption in China.

Wu also pointed out general aviation is an important part of a country or region’s consumption. It can serve as an indicator of the larger economy or the activity of non-manufacturing businesses. While the index only focuses on consumption at present, it will cover the entire value chain in the near future, including manufacturing, delivery and storage.

David Hanna, vice president of global commodity and energy price rating agency Argus, said at the forum China will continue to be the major driver of global aviation fuel consumption thanks to the higher flight frequency of outbound Chinese travelers.

Public information shows the size of China’s general aviation fleet has grown 15 percent annually over the past four years. The number of Chinese general aviation planes will reach over 5,000 by 2020, with annual flight time cresting 2 million hours.

Regarding this trend, CNAF released its general aviation development strategy and planning outline on Saturday, demonstrating how to better seize the opportunity.

CNAF’s chairman Zhou Qiang said the Chinese general aviation market is still in its very early stage, which points to huge room for development.

“One company should not focus on its own development regarding the development of an emerging market. A win-win or mutually beneficial scenario is crucial to more sustained development. It is thus CNAF’s goal to set up an extensive partnership network that will eventually grow into an ecosystem connecting local governments, airports and general aviation companies,” Zhou said.