Beijing’s New Airport Takes a Big Step Towards Opening
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Beijing’s Daxing International Airport took a big step Monday towards its official opening on September 30. The new airport that will serve the Chinese capital welcomed its first passenger aircraft, in a quadruple test flight with no passengers. Four of China’s largest airlines sent their flagship airplanes to test out the facilities.
In order of arrival, the four planes were a China Southern Airlines Airbus A380, an Airbus A350-900 belonging to China Eastern Airlines, an Air China Boeing 747-8 and a Boeing 787-9 belonging to Xiamen Airlines. The planes completed basic test flights into Daxing to ensure that all four runways were fully operational, according to Chinese media. The next phase in August will test the airport’s operational abilities under conditions of low visibility; more tests will follow in early fall.
Daxing will be the second major commercial airport in Beijing, and will help relieve current capacity limitations at Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK). The new airport will take the three-letter code PKX, and it will be the world’s largest single-terminal airport by surface area, surpassig Istanbul’s newly opened airport and Dubai.
The $14 billion new build will eventually have seven runways and an overall footprint of 18 square miles, with anticipated traffic of more than 100 million annual passengers once all phases of construction are fully complete. PEK will not close down, however. According to AIN Online, citing a plan by Chinese aviation authorities, foreign airlines can choose whether they want to fly from PEK or PKX or both. SkyTeam alliance airlines will move to the new airport, while Star Alliance carriers — including Air China, United and Air Canada — will stay at PEK. According to the South China Morning Post newspaper, it’s still unclear whether Delta and American, the other two US airlines serving Beijing, will move to Daxing or stay at Capital Airport.
Featured photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images
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