Beijing now has the largest terminal in the world under one giant starfish-shaped roof.
The Daxing International Airport (PKX) expects to welcome a total of 78 million passengers annually by 2025, surging to 100 million before 2040 and peaking at 130 million, a government release suggests, though reports vary significantly.
How Big Is It?
When it comes to describing the Daxing Airport’s envergure, spectacular is an understatement.
Short of four years in the making and costing ¥80bn (£8.8bn), according to a GT agency release, the airport stretches over the surface equivalent to 98 football pitches and can simultaneously host 150 planes.
To make the airport operate smoothly, 600,000 people are estimated to be employed.
Utilitarian Beauty à la Hadid
Designed by the late Arab architect Zaha Hadid, the Daxing International Airport is an architectural marvel. It features traditional Chinese courtyards in the departure lounges, pet hotels, childcare facilities and yet-to-be-revealed shopping arcades.
Not a mere aesthetically extraordinary building to be in awe at, Daxing blends Hadid’s statement modernity with efficiency.
The maximum journey from security to the furthest gate is only 600 metres away.
Soon enough, upon completion of the intercity railway construction, passengers will only need 11 minutes to reach central Beijing.
AI, 5G and Surveillance
Surprisingly, facial recognition will replace documents upon check-in and boarding at Beijing’s Daxing airport. Though details of the extent and mandatory requirements are unclear, this raises privacy concerns amid China’s alleged Big Brother like surveillance.
Moreover, 5G base station is said to feature at the airport, a technology that got Chinese Huawei phone manufacturer into troubled waters in the Western market over security vulnerabilities.
Can I Fly There?
Several airline companies, including British Airways, the Skyteam alliance members and China Southern Airlines, are said to have already started operating flights since day one of launch, on September 2019. The Chinese authorities announced that PKX will host a total of 16 operators, with 101 domestic routes and 15 international ones.
Starting from this quarter, Daxing International Airport will offer daily long-haul flights to London, Kathmandu and Kuala Lumpur; to Bandar Seri Begawan and Warsaw – four times a week; and to Helsinki and Casablanca – three times a week.
China’s Oldest Airport Shuts Down After 109 Years
Meanwhile, on the other side of Beijing, China’s oldest airport – Nanyuan – has shut down on the same day as the Daxing fanfare inauguration.
Operating for 109 years, the Chinese aviation relic saw many historic events, including two world wars and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, who happens mark its 70th anniversary on October 2 this year, just a week after the Daxing opening and the Nanyuan closure.
The old Nanyuan will be turned into an aviation museum, while the surrounding area may see a construction boom as a result.
Aviation Competition Between US, China, India and UK
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects the new Beijing airport to become the world’s largest civil aviation market within the next five years. The first position is currently held by the United States of America.
IATA also predicts that India is a strong contender for the third position, expected to replace the United Kingdom before 2024.
In 2022, the city of Beijing will host the Olympics, which the new airport is expected to accommodate in time.
Rux speaks six languages and has been an international correspondent and editor of several current affairs and lifestyle magazines and newspapers in Eastern Europe.
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