World’s largest 'starfish' airport opens in Beijing


One of the terminal halls of the newly launched Daxing International Airport in Beijing. — Reuters

After a construction period of only four years, the new international airport in Beijing, China, has been put into operation. At the ceremony, China’s state and party leader Xi Jinping was there to mark the opening of the mega-airport.

The airport in Daxing, some 50km south of the city centre, is the largest airport in the world in terms of space. By 2021 it will be used by around 45 million passengers a year, and China says this number will later double to up to 100 million.

Because of its six side arms, the site is regularly known as the “starfish”. This also means passengers will only have to walk short distances – a maximum of 600m, according to airport officials.

The airport design, with its organic shapes and lots of natural light, was led by the Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, who died in 2016. With an area of 700,000 sq m, it has the size of 98 football pitches. Travellers will be shuttled into the city centre in 20 minutes by rapid transit train.

Today, more than 100 million air travellers are already handled via the old airport in northern Beijing. After the US airport Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta in Georgia, it is now considered the largest airport in the world.

Beijing’s large third terminal (T3) was only opened shortly before the 2008 Olympic Games, but is now bursting at the seams.

The new airport was celebrated in the state media as a sign of China’s efficiency and growth. Its opening took place as planned in time for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.

“It is the largest integrated transport hub in the world,” project manager Bai Henhong told Xinhua news agency. Initially, there will be four runways, set to expand to seven in the future.

The first regular flight to leave the airport was an aircraft from China Southern Airlines. Initially, China Southern Airlines and China United Airlines will depart from Daxing, before airlines of the global alliance. Skyteam gradually switch over with China Eastern, Delta, Korean and Air-France-KLM. – dpa

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