Built in 4 years, Beijing Daxing international airport opens doors
Beijing’s new $11.5 billion mega airport with the world’s largest single-building terminal was inaugurated on Wednesday, less than a week ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
President Xi Jinping announced the opening of the Beijing Daxing International Airport, touted as the world’s largest airport by surface area.
Designed by the Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid, and located 46 km south of central Beijing, the new airport with four runways is expected to handle 45 million passengers annually by 2021, 72 million by 2025, and eventually 100 million by 2040.
The numbers are eye-popping: The airport spans 7,00,000 square metres or nearly 100 football fields; 6,30,000 flights are expected to operate annually; parking space will be available for 150 aircraft.
A train station and a metro line have been built under the terminal, which will allow travellers to reach Beijing’s centre in less than 30 minutes.
Chinese state media has hailed the new airport as “a marvel of logistical planning, architecture, and economic integration”.
“On the southern border of Beijing, spilling into Hebei province is a gigantic field occupied by a massive starfish-like structure with six arms. This starfish is the world’s largest airport terminal, and the surrounding field is for flight operations. Altogether, it’s nothing short of an engineering and logistical marvel,” the China Daily newspaper said.
Construction of the airport began in 2015. The new airport was needed to ease the pressure of the existing Beijing Capital International Airport, the second busiest in the world after the Atlanta airport.
Passengers will not need to show any documents or boarding passes during security checks at the Daxing airport as the new system allows facial recognition for check-in and security, a state media report said.
Several domestic and foreign airlines including British Airways, Finnair and Cathay Pacific have announced routes to Daxing, which has been codenamed PKX.
The tabloid Global Times reported that in 2018, the total annual passenger throughput reached 1.26 billion at China’s civil airports, growing at an annual average of 11 percent over the past 10 years.
By the end of 2018, China had 235 civil airports, including 37 with at least 10 million passengers annually; among these, 10 were at the level of 30 million passengers.
China is now the world’s second-largest civil aviation market. It is forecast to become the largest by around 2025, according to the International Air Transport Association.