Beijing's next airport a 'shining example'
China’s capital unveiled the “shining example” of its 80 billion yuan (US$12.1 billion) new airport yesterday, tipped to become one of the world’s largest when it opens in October 2019.
Representatives showed off the sprawling skeleton of “Beijing New Airport,” which is made up of 1.6 million cubic meters of concrete, 52,000 tons of steel and spans a total of 47 square kilometers, including runways.
It is expected to serve an initial 45 million passengers a year with an eventual capacity of 100 million, putting it on par with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the United States.
“Lined up together there’s roughly 5 kilometers of gates,” said project spokesman Zhu Wenxin. “It’s a shining example of China’s national production capacity.”
The project, which broke ground in 2014, is one of the region’s largest infrastructure investments.
Some 67 kilometers south of Beijing, the airport technically falls in neighboring Hebei Province, though it will eventually constitute its own development zone.
It will relieve pressure on Beijing’s existing international airport, to the northeast of the city and currently the world’s second-largest by passenger volume, which opened a new terminal worth US$3.6 billion in 2008 ahead of the Beijing Summer Olympics.
The existing airport will continue to operate major international flights, though a third smaller domestic airport in the city’s south is set to close.
Two of China’s major airlines, China Eastern and China Southern, will relocate to the airport and accounted for roughly 80 percent of its total traffic.
The airport will be connected to Beijing by train with a top speed of 350kph, as well as an inter-city train and a major expressway.
Original plans for the airport were made by France’s Aeroports de Paris, though third-party improvements make the final design “wholly domestic,” Zhu said.
“It’s like a large flower, but made of steel,” one construction worker said.