Beijing’s new multi-billion dollar airport, Daxing International, was formally declared open by President Xi on Wednesday.
The 450-billion-yuan (USD 63 billion) project, completed in less than five years, will give a boost to infrastructure growth, flagging amid the biggest economic slowdown in decades, as China and the United States remain locked in a trade war.
The phoenix-shaped airport, abbreviated PKX, is located in Beijing’s south and will help ease pressure on the existing Capital International Airport in the capital’s northeast, where capacity constraints often cause flight delays.
Designed by the Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid, the new airport boasts four runaways and is expected to handle up to 72 million passengers a year by 2025, eventually reaching 100 million.
China aims to build Daxing, which is expected to become one of the world’s busiest airports, into a global aviation hub, as the country is forecast to overtake the United States as the world’s largest aviation market by 2022.
It will also accommodate passengers from the neighbouring areas of Hebei and Tianjin, linked by a sprawling network of high-speed and inter-city trains, metros and public buses.
China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines are the main airlines at Daxing, while about 50 foreign airlines, including British Airways and Finnair, plan to move all or part of their operations in the next few quarters.
Flag carrier Air China won 10% of the capacity at Daxing.
Against an initial plan for China Southern and China Eastern to move all operations to the new airport, with each getting 40% of its capacity, China Eastern has retained its highly profitable Beijing-Shanghai route out of the old airport.
The relocation of all airlines is to be completed by the winter of 2021.
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