Beijing’s sea change: main building work done on starfish-shaped mega airport

Echo Xie

Main construction work on Beijing’s starfish-shaped new mega airport was completed on Sunday, state media reported, as it enters final preparations to open its doors in September – in time for the 70th anniversary of the founding of communist China on October 1.

Designed by ADP Ingénierie and the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, the Beijing Daxing International Airport is located in the south of the capital and will be the world’s largest single-terminal airport, with a total investment of about 120 billion yuan (US$17.47 billion).

Its futuristic, golden terminal spans 700,000 square metres (7.5 million sq ft), though it is designed to keep walking to a minimum.

It is expected to have seven runways eventually and will be able to handle 45 million passengers a year by 2021 – and 72 million by 2025.

“In the long run, it will be able to accommodate 880,000 flights and 100 million passengers per year,” Yuan Hongwei, director of the Beijing Municipal Development and Reform Commission’s investment planning unit, told state broadcaster CCTV.

That would mean it could eventually handle more passengers in a year than the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The US airport in Atlanta, Georgia is at present the world’s busiest by passenger traffic – it can accommodate more than 100 million passengers a year, but across two terminals.

Work on a new integrated control terminal at the Daxing airport has also been finished, Shanghai-based news site Thepaper.cn reported on Sunday, citing the North China Air Traffic Management Bureau. That will centralise air traffic control for Daxing and the existing airports in Beijing and Tianjin initially, and later the Zhengding airport in neighbouring Hebei province.

“[Daxing airport] will play a role … in building the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei airport cluster,” Jin Qiuhong, a deputy director of Beijing city’s state-owned enterprise regulator, told CCTV.

Located 46km to the south of Beijing’s centre, 55km from the Xiongan New Area economic zone and 80km from port city Tianjin, the new airport has been billed as a transport hub for the north of the country. It will connect with intercity and high-speed rail services as well as three subway lines.

In addition, a 150 sq km economic zone surrounding the airport has been planned to develop industries ranging from international medical care and airport services to logistics.

The futuristic new airport is expected to open in September. Photo: Xinhua

Ahead of the opening, airport facilities and equipment are to be put to the test in six large-scale simulation exercises, and they will also be examined by the aviation authority, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Airlines have meanwhile released plans to move services from Beijing’s two other airports to Daxing. China Southern Airlines will transfer 13 routes and 28 flights to the new airport by October 27, Thepaper.cn reported. China United Airlines will transfer more than 60 flights and 4,000 workers in winter, while China Eastern Airlines plans to move all of its flights to Daxing next summer, apart from 46 daily services between Beijing and Shanghai.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

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