Beijing’s Giant New Airport Officially Opens
Beijing’s highly anticipated Daxing International Airport officially opened Wednesday, ahead of the Oct. 1 celebration marking the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.
President Xi Jinping visited the Chinese capital’s second major international airport to announce its official opening. In the afternoon, aircraft operated by seven Chinese airlines took off from the airport with select groups of passengers to mark the opening. Tickets for flights to and from the airport will go on sale to the public starting Monday.
Located 46 kilometers (29 miles) south of the city center, the 80 billion yuan ($11 billion) Daxing International Airport has been billed as the world’s largest flight terminal in a single building, covering 700,000 square meters (173 acres), China Daily reports. Construction on the airport began four years ago and was finished in June.
The airport was built to take some of the pressure off Beijing Capital International Airport in northeastern Beijing. The new airport will be able to eventually handle 100 million passengers annually. It is expected to be able to handle 45 million passengers each year by 2021 and 72 million by 2025.
Last year, Beijing Capital saw 100 million passengers come and go, well above its maximum capacity of 76 million, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China. The Chinese capital’s commercial flight market will have 142 million passengers next year, according to a government projection.
A total of 16 airlines, including China’s three major state-owned carriers and other airlines such as British Airways, will use Daxing airport from Oct. 27 to March 28. Over this period, the airlines will operate 101 domestic flights and 15 international routes, according to official figures.
There has been an intense fight among the three major state-owned airlines — Air China, China Southern, China Eastern — for space at Daxing airport.
According to the final published plan, Guangzhou-based China Southern will be the dominant airline. Its planned flights take up 40% of Daxing airport’s arrival and departure slots. Shanghai-based China Eastern has 30% and Beijing-based Air China controls 10%. The remaining 20% of the slots have been divvyed up among other airlines.
Most of China Southern and China Eastern’s current flights out of Beijing Capital will be transferred to Daxing.
At the same time, Beijing Nanyuan Airport, located near Daxing airport, will officially close its civil aviation business. China United Airlines, the current only user of Nanyuan Airport, will move its operations to Daxing.
Contact reporter Mo Yelin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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