A futuristic “starfish” shaped new airport was opened in Beijing by President Xi Jinping on Wednesday.
Xi inaugurated the the starfish-shaped airport at a ceremony inside the huge terminal, days before the country holds a grand celebration to mark 70 years of Communist rule.
The airport located 46 kilometres (29 miles) south of Tiananmen Square, the Beijing Daxing International Airport will operate at full capacity in 2040, with eight runways and the potential to receive 100 million passengers each year.
The new airport is 700,000 square metres or 173 acres, which is equivalent to the size of a 100 football pitches. The new structure when fully operational would be the world’s largest airport. The building was designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid.
Underneath the terminal is a train station and metro line that will allow travellers to reach the city centre in 20 minutes. The entire project costs 400 billion yuan or $58.33 billion.
At full capacity, Daxing would be the world’s largest single terminal in terms of traveller capacity.
Atlanta airport in the United States is currently the world’s busiest airport and can receive more than a hundred million passengers but across two terminals.
The current Beijing Capital International Airport which is the world’s second-largest is already overflowing, with just over 100 million passengers annually.
Both foreign and domestic carriers have announced plans to move their operations to the new airport.
British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Finnair have already announced their new routes to Daxing to tap the potential of the new aviation hub. The SkyTeam alliance, which includes Delta, Air France and Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM), are also expected to move over to the new airport, along with their partners Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines.
The maiden flight from the airport is scheduled at 3.30pm Beijing time (0730 GMT), according to Chinese flight tracking app Umetrip.
However, Air China the third-largest Chinese airline, is expected to keep flying the bulk of its flights from Beijing Capital International Airport.
Air transport is booming in China as living standards increase along with peoples’ desire to travel.
It is expected to surpass the US to become the world’s biggest aviation market by the mid-2020s, according to the International Air Transport Association.
By 2037 the country will have 1.6 billion plane journeys each year which is a billion more than the figures in 2017.
Source : Various