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Beijing is about to join an exclusive list of major cities — London, New York, Tokyo and Paris — with a multitude of international airports. Scheduled to open in 2019, Beijing Daxing International Airport will include seven runways and accommodate up to 100 million passengers each year, according to Li Jiaxiang, the director of China’s bureau of aviation.
The $13 billion airport is expected to alleviate pressure on Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK), which was built in time for the 2008 Olympic Games and now boasts the title of world’s second-busiest airport having hosted over 94.4 million passengers in 2016. Originally built to process 80 million people a year, the capital’s existing airport has lacked the infrastructure to support increasing travel demand.
Located just south of Beijing, the new airport will comprise of a 7.5 million-square-foot airport terminal — the largest in the world. The airport will include direct connections to local and national rail transportation — including the GaoTie high-speed rail network, which will transport passengers to and from downtown Beijing and cities like Tianjin and Hebei Province in less than half an hour.
The brand new hub exclusively allows China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines to each capture 40% of the airport’s passengers, and in turn acquire coveted time slots to Europe and the US while competing with Air China, according to Bloomberg. Both airlines operate under the SkyTeam alliance, allowing for seamless flight connections between the two competitors.
“There are demands to add hundreds of flights in Beijing every day that get refused because we’re running out of resources,” said Liu Xuesong, general manager of Capital Airports Holding Co., the operator of Beijing’s Capital International Airport while speaking to Bloomberg. “The city is capable of running dual hubs.” The airport duo is expected to process over 170 million passengers by 2025.
While the new airport will help Beijing keep up with demand, the government will also have to provide its share by clearing new flight routes; only about 30% of China’s airspace is open to civilian flights — a major factor attributed to poor performance records among its airlines.
All images courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects.
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