After nearly five years of construction, work on Beijing’s second international airport was completed earlier this week, and is expected to officially open this year on Sept. 30.
The eye-catching, multibillion-dollar airport, which resembles a massive glittering starfish, was originally designed to take the pressure off the overcrowded Beijing Capital International Airport. The new facility, located south of the city, will be able to handle 72 million passengers a year by 2025, and as many as 100 million by 2040.
In addition to accommodating millions of future travelers, the Beijing Daxing International Airport will also celebrate the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Communist government in China by Mao Zedong.
“The new airport is a landmark project for China’s 70th anniversary of National Day, built to very high standards,” said Ivan Zhou, an analyst with BOC International Holdings in Hong Kong. “It’ll help optimize flight schedules from Beijing and attract more passengers.”
Underneath the terminal is a train station and metro line that will allow travelers to reach the city center within about 20 minutes. The project cost 120 billion yuan (US$17.5 billion), and if you include rail routes and road links, 400 billion yuan (US$58.3 billion).
According to the Chinese state television channel CCTV, the SkyTeam alliance (which includes Delta, Air France and KLM) will move over to the new airport along with its partners (Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines), while the third largest Chinese airline (Air China) is expected to keep flying the majority of its flights from Beijing Capital International Airport. The transition is expected to be completed by the winter of 2021, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
By 2040, the hub is expected to have expanded to eight runways, including one for military use, and will be able to welcome 100 million passengers per year — which will make it the world's largest single terminal in terms of traveler capacity, according to its designers. Combined, the two Beijing airports will facilitate more than 170 million fliers annually by 2025, according to Chinese estimates.
The addition of the Beijing Daxing International Airport will only further fuel China’s economic growth. In fact, with the introduction of the new facility, Beijing is joining a short list of major cities, such as London, New York and Tokyo, that have multiple international airports. And if the Chinese projections hold true, the country may displace the U.S. as the largest aviation market by 2022.