New Beijing Daxing aims to be international airport hub
Updated 19:13, 09-Jul-2019
By Zhao Yuheng, Wang Peng

The new Beijing Daxing International Airport, construction of which finished on June 30, is now in the phase of adjusting equipment to make sure it can open on time on September 30, an official of the Civil Aviation Administration of China has said.

The airport, whose international code will be PKX, boasts the second largest terminal building in the world after Istanbul Airport. PKX is designed to handle 72 million passengers by 2025, effectively sharing and reducing the traffic load on the overstressed Beijing Capital International Airport, which handled more than 100 million passengers in 2018.

Chinese domestic carriers, mainly China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, will be gradually transferred to the new airport after it opens. Domestic carriers will have to operate from one of the airports in Beijing, but not both. One exception is China Eastern Airlines, which has given 10 percent of its time slot at PKX to Air China to be able to continue to operate its Beijing-Shanghai route, one of the carrier's most profitable routes, at Beijing Capital.

However, as Beijing Daxing is shooting to be a new international hub, the civil aviation authority is offering airlines incentives to try to attract more international traffic. "China Southern, China Eastern, Capital Airlines, Spring Airlines, and China United Airlines have already got the clearance to operate flights to the UK, Russia, South Korea, and Egypt," said Yu Biao, the deputy director general of the Department of Transport of Civil Aviation Administration of China. "The route from PKX to Paris has also finished the preliminary work of traffic rights allocation."

Overseas carriers will be allowed to operate from both airports in Beijing. However, Yu said China will give them preferential policies to encourage them to move to the new airport. "If overseas airlines move their operation voluntarily to the new airport, they can get bonus time slots as well as a more optimized schedule," the official said.

China is in an airport building spree that has rarely been seen anywhere else before. Billions of Chinese yuan are being poured into new international hubs such as the new Chengdu Tianfu Airport, or regional airports in remote regions in dire need of connectivity. More existing airports are in need of expansion to handle the ever-growing traffic with China's civil aviation industry growing rapidly.

Government data shows the sector handled 320 million passengers in the first half of the year, an 8.5 percent increase from the same period last year. The market potential is huge. Experts estimate that there are still about 1 billion Chinese who have never taken a plane, but the gap is closing. "27 million Chinese have flown for the first time in the first six months of 2019," said Sun Shaohua of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.