CHINA’S new US$12.14 billion mega-airport is set to become the world’s biggest airport when it begins operating in October 2019.
Recently, representatives showed off a skeleton of the airport which is made up of 1.6 million cubic metres of concrete, 52,000 tonnes of steel and spans a total 47 sq km including runways, according to Reuters.
The airport is projected to serve 45 million passengers a year and with an eventual capacity of 100 million, placing it on par with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Project spokesman Zhu Wenxin said that the project is a “shining example of China’s national production capacity”.
The project, which broke ground in 2014, is one of the region’s largest infrastructure investments under Xi’s rule, which has been plagued by fears of slowing economic growth, offset slightly by a construction spree.
China has sought to boost its profile as both an aviation hub and a manufacturer in recent years. The country’s first home-grown passenger jet, the C919, lifted off on its maiden flight in May, edging into a multibillion-dollar market currently dominated by Boeing Co and Airbus SE.
Situated 67km south of Beijing, the airport technically falls in neighboring Hebei province, though it will eventually constitute its own development zone.
It will relieve pressure on Beijing’s existing international airport, to the northeast of Beijing and currently the world’s second largest by passenger volume, which opened a new terminal worth US$3.6 billion in 2008 ahead of the Beijing Summer Olympics.
The existing airport will continue to operate major international flights, though a third smaller domestic airport in the city’s south will close in coming years.
Two of China’s three major airlines, China Eastern Airlines Corp and China Southern Airlines Co, will relocate to the airport on completion, accounting for roughly four-fifths of the new airport’s total traffic.
The airport will be connected to Beijing by a high-speed train with a top speed of 350 km/h, as well as an inter-city train and a major expressway.
Additional reporting by Reuters.