Opening just in time for celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing’s Daxing International Airport is the Chinese capital’s newest attraction. The second in Beijing, the 80 billion yuan (USD11 billion) mega-airport’s maiden flight featured commercial aircraft from China Southern Airlines and was flown by 25-year veteran pilot Zhang Tao. Initially, the airport will only host domestic flights (as both the customs and immigration sections are not yet operational) but by spring 2020, it aims to reach over 100 locations around the world, with multiple international carriers already announcing plans to shift flights to Daxing.
Daxing, nicknamed “the starfish” because of its shape, began construction in 2014 and was designed to be an airport ‘for the future’. Designed by the late Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid, the airport spans 700,000 square meters (roughly the size of 100 football fields); however, designers guarantee that traveling between terminals will only take minutes. Its five concourses are connected to a single main hall which increases efficiency and allows travelers to reduce walking. Daxing’s authority stated that there will be a distance of no more than 600 meters (approximately eight minutes of walking) between initial security checkpoints and the farthest boarding gates. Travelers will also be able to use advanced technologies such as facial recognition and paperless check-in systems.
To give international travelers a taste of China, the state-of-the-art airport tries to offer more than just calculated efficiency. It also aims to showcase the best of Chinese culture with the expansive “China Garden” – a traditional style courtyard surrounding a koi pond situated within the international concourse.
Initial estimates indicate Daxing will be able to accommodate 72 million passengers and two million tons of cargo by 2025, reducing congestion at Beijing Capital International Airport – the capital’s other international airport (the second busiest in the world behind Atlanta). The master plan included the construction of seven runways with the goal of moving at least 100 million passengers and four million tons of cargo per year. Although the new airport is located in the far south of Beijing, “the starfish” features integrated transportation including high-speed rail, inter-city services and downtown-to-airport express trains, promising to transport passengers to the city in less than 20 minutes.
Beijing’s new airport signifies the continuing growth of the Chinese capital, and creates a new, if not surprising, destination for visitors to mark on their journey. Want to take a quick look for yourself? Check out CGTN’s first look.