Plans for new Daxing Airport in Beijing Revealed
NACO, the Dutch consulting and airport engineering agency, released the first sketches of the new Beijing International Airport scheduled for construction by 2017. On this occasion, the media, who wrote about the new airport back in September 2011, focused once more on the enormous dimensions of the soon-to-be largest airport in the world.
The current Beijing Capital Airport is already the second busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger numbers (73 million passengers last year). The opening of the new Terminal 3 less than four years ago (which alone is already larger than London’s Heathrow airport) failed to decongest the airport, which had been planned to accommodate 75 million passengers annually.
The new airport attempts to address the boom in Chinese air traffic in terms of surface as well as capacity, and the numbers are impressive: It is predicted that Beijing will be able to accommodate 370,000 passengers per day, in comparison to the 205,000 it currently services. The Daxing site (46km south of Beijing) consists of 54 square kilometers entirely dedicated to the airport. In addition, new high-speed lines connecting the future airport to the cities of Tianjin, Shenyang, Shijiazhuang and Shanghai are being considered; public transport (subways and shuttles) will allow passengers to reach the center of the capital in less than half an hour (Daxing is an hour away by car); and nine runways are currently planned (to date, Atlanta holds the record with six runways).
The high volume of air traffic in Beijing is largely due to the great number of domestic flights: in 2010, Chinese travelers accounted for four times the number of foreign travelers. Further inflating these numbers, Beijing’s airport also serves Tianjin and the cities of Hubei Province, which are conveniently connected to the airport by new high-speed lines. China’s aviation industry is also rapidly developing and has tripled its profits between 2010 and 2011. The above article takes this opportunity to report on and speculate about the transformation of Beijing into a megapolis as the city expands and integrates neighboring villages. The airport hopes to be able to sustain and accommodate this urban growth. The report also notes the concerns of environmental groups regarding the increase of Chinese air traffic. NACO has already indicated that the reduction of CO2 emissions was at the heart of the project.