January 21, 2011
Beijing's city government has approved plans to build a new airport in a southern suburb within the next five years with an initial annual capacity of 40 million passengers, state media said on Friday.
Planners have proposed the new airport to take the pressure off the existing international airport, which has long delays at peak travel times even with a new terminal and third runway opened in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Preparatory construction work for the new airport would start this year, state news agency Xinhua quoted Beijing mayor Guo Jinlong as saying.
The first phase would be able to handle 40 million passengers a year, the report said. Beijing Capital International Airport, by comparison, handled almost 74 million passengers last year.
Chinese media says the new airport will be located in Beijing's southern Daxing district. By 2015, the city would have an air transport capacity of 120 million people a year, Xinhua added.
It gave no investment figures for the new airport.
Beijing already has a second airport, the mainly military facility at Nanyuan which also handles a handful of civil flights to secondary and tertiary cities. Officials have said they have no plans to expand massively there.
Air travel is developing rapidly in China on the back of a booming economy. Boeing confirmed this week that China had agreed to a USD$19 billion contract to buy 200 Boeing aircraft for delivery between 2011 and 2013.
China also has big plans for its airport network, especially in poorer and more remote regions in the far west. But many of these stylish new airports have struggled to attract customers and languish with just a few flights a week, or none at all.