China’s Hunan province expects to build 15 new airports over 18 years from 2013, under a $16bn plan approved by Beijing.
Six existing facilities will also be expanded.
The aim is to connect more cities with other parts of the country as people get more affluent.
Hunan is surrounded by mountains in the south, east and west and the Yangtze River in the north, restricting land transport.
The airports will serve the major towns, and will provide general aviation facilities for activities such as medical assistance, agricultural and scientific surveys and privately-arranged transport, even where there are no commercial services.
China currently has 186 civil airports in operation, mainly in the western and central regions, and hopes to have 235 by 2030.
An official of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, Li Zie, said China needs to build more airports as demand for travel within the country has grown rapidly over the last five years.
In 2011, 132 of China's 185 airports reported a combined loss of $287 million.
This is expected to surpass $290 million in 2012.