Pegged to open in October 2019, the 80 billion yuan (US$12.14 billion) Beijing Daxing International Airport is expected to become the world’s largest.
The new airport, with a total area of 47 sq km (18 sq miles), will include seven runways. It is expected to serve 100 million passengers and handle four million tonnes of cargo a year.
With much of the construction work already completed on the project, it is already taking shape. Viewed from the sky, the giant airport has been described as looking like a ‘starfish’ or ‘flying phoenix’.
The city’s current Beijing Capital International Airport is at present the second busiest in the world. It served more than 94 million passengers in 2016, just behind Atlanta‘s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
It is hoped that the new Daxing International Airport will relieve some of the traffic and pressure on Beijing’s current international airport. 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.
Located 67 km south of Beijing, the new airport technically falls in neighbouring Hebei province. The airport will be connected to Beijing by a high-speed train with a top speed of 350 km per hour, as well as an inter-city train and a major expressway.
Major Chinese airlines, including China Eastern Airlines Corp and China Southern Airlines Co, will relocate to the airport upon completion, accounting for roughly four-fifths of the new airport’s total traffic.
One construction worker told Reuters, ‘It’s like a large flower, but made of steel.’
In recent years, China has been on a mission to boost its profile as both an aviation hub and a manufacturer. In 2017, the country’s first home-grown passenger jet, the C919, lifted off on its maiden flight.
The new airport is one of the largest infrastructure investments under President Xi Jinping’s rule. Xi is the current president of China and leader of the ruling Communist Party.