Situated 46 kilometers south of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, Daxing International Airport is set to serve the Chinese capital and its sprawling conurbation in neighboring Hebei and Tianjin.
In only four years, 10,000 workers have turned large swathes of fallow wasteland into the nation’s newest aviation hub covering an area two-thirds the size of Manhattan.
When an inauguration flight takes off from Daxing’s cobweb of runways at the end of September it will open the 80 billion yuan (US$11.8 billion), 47-square-kilometer airport and set into motion China’s lavish celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Communist Republic.
Daxing’s six-runway configuration, plus a 1.03-million-square-meter terminal with 268 jetway bridges, is billed as the world’s largest and will dwarf Beijing’s existing Capital International Airport, which has three runways. Within five to seven years, Daxing will handle 100 million passengers per year, alleviating persistent overcrowding and flight delays at her sister airport, according to Xinhua.
Daxing may thus handle more passengers than any other airport across the globe, wrestling away the crown of the world’s busiest airport from Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the US.
Daxing’s colossal terminal is a web of concrete, rebar and glass with a central atrium cum security check hall, five curved spokes as well as five outdoor gardens at the end of the five semi-transparent wings. It is one of the last works of the late architect Zaha Hadid. But despite its vast size, Daxing’s operator has promised short walking distances, aided by automatic people movers and clear signage.
It is said that to get from the central security check to the farthest gate in each wing will involve a journey of no more than 600 meters.
Beijing cadres hope Daxing will assist in shaking off the capital’s miserable reputation for clogged transportation to and from its airports: construction of high-speed rail lines for bullet trains, metro lines as well as expressways built to serve Daxing have kept pace with the airport project itself and will open to traffic on schedule.
Daxing will serve as a hub for SkyTeam alliance airlines including China Eastern Airlines, Taiwan’s China Airlines, Delta, Air France, KLM and Korean Air, while Star Alliance members will remain at the existing Capital Airport.