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The biggest airport in the world opens in 2019

There’s a new mega airport on the horizon. Now that China has become the world’s fastest growing aviation sector, Beijing is making strides to keep up. Set to open in 2019, Beijing New Airport will become the biggest airport in the world. The ultra-modern airport will be a shining showpiece of President Xi Jinping’s massive infrastructure push in the country.

Beijing New Airport is intended to free up Beijing's Capital International Airport, currently the second busiest airport in the world by passenger volume. According to reporting by the New York Times, China is home to some of the world’s worst delays and missed connections. To help improve its record, the country is in the midst of a massive project to build more airports, with a current target to build 60 new airports by 2020.

Lit-up skyline at night of Beijing China which will gain the world’s biggest airport in 2019
Lit-up skyline at night of Beijing China which will gain the world’s biggest airport in 2019

The massive Beijing New Airport is expected to serve 45 million passengers annually to start, and will eventually grow to accommodate 75-100 million travelers at full capacity. Upon completion, the new 80 billion yuan ($12.14 billion) airport will become the hub for China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, two of the country’s “big three” airlines. While the airport isn’t near the city center – it sits 67 km south of congested Beijing – it will be connected to the city by a high-speed train traveling at speeds up to 217 mph.

The 7.5 million square-foot terminal has a unique starfish-like shape with a central hub and six spokes extending outward, intended to decrease passengers’ travel times by shortening distances from check-in to the gate. The futuristic terminal was designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid and ADP Ingeniérie, a firm that specializes in airport design, after they won the bid for the airport in 2014. After Hadid passed away in 2016, her firm took on the project and will see it through to completion.

While the new airport won’t open its gates until 2019, progress is already underway. The steel structure of the main terminal was erected in June and China offered journalists a preview of progress in October, with the skeleton on full display. So far, Beijing New Airport is comprised of 52,000 tonnes of steel, 1.6 million cubic meters of concrete and covers a total of 18 square miles, runways included.

Beijing's Capital International Airport is currently congested but not outdated, featuring a $3.6 billion terminal that opened in advance of the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008. Capital International Airport will continue to service international flights after Beijing New Airport opens.

While no official statement has been made, sources predict the Chinese government will consolidate all business and private aviation to Capital International Airport once commercial traffic slows. This plan would be highly preferential to business travelers and private jet charter passengers, as the old airport is far closer to the city center. The business aviation industry hasn’t yet reached its full potential in China, as hard-to-secure runway access means departure times must be booked in advance. With the opening of the new airport, the industry should expect to see more interest in private jets for sale in China.

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