China is poised to overtake the United States as the world’s biggest air travel market by 2022 — and it’s little wonder the country’s airport construction craze shows no signs of abating.
The government has plans to build or expand 74 airports nationwide by the end of 2020, aiming to accommodate a whopping 720 million passengers a year.
No project is attracting more attention than Beijing Daxing International Airport, the Chinese capital’s new multibillion-dollar aviation hub slated to open in September 2019.
Beijing is in desperate need of a second global gateway. The existing Capital International Airport is hitting full capacity, making it nearly impossible for airlines to add flights at desirable times.
In 2017, more than 95 million passengers passed through the three terminals of Beijing Capital, the world’s second busiest airport behind only Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta.
The new Daxing airport, designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid and her Chinese partners, is built for the future, boasting four runways and a terminal the size of 144 football pitches upon opening of the first phase.
The “modest” initial operational target is to accommodate 72 million passengers and two million tons of cargo annually by 2025.
The ambitious master plan calls for the building of a total of seven runways, and moving at least 100 million passengers and four million tons of cargo a year through the airport.
Construction for the $11.5 billion project began in 2014, with more than 40,000 workers. The terminal bears all the hallmarks of Hadid’s signature contour lines, with plenty of natural light shining through rooftop windows.
For frequent fliers around the world, though, one big question lingers as the airport’s much-anticipated opening approaches: Which airlines will use Daxing?
It was going to be a crown jewel for Skyteam, one of the three global airline alliances, with China-based members China Southern and China Eastern becoming anchor carriers at Daxing. Other Skyteam members such as Delta, Korean and Air France-KLM will move to the new airport as well.