China can take great pride in the robust growth of its economy, its successful path towards peace and prosperity, along with garnering more global attention from tourists, scholars and the world at large. Beijing, the capital city, represents the heart of China. Beijing stands at the forefront of a new Asia that is emerging, which coincides with a shift in power and money flowing from the West to the East.
Accordingly, it should come as no surprise that China’s central government has just launched construction of the world’s largest airport anticipated to be completed by 2015. Yet what’s more surprising is that the city already operates a major international airport. The new airport would simply resolve the overflowing aviation traffic congestion problems.
The new Beijing Daxing International Airport is being constructed out of necessity, not for public relations’ purposes. Let’s take a look at some figures to understand why.
The Daily Telegraph of London quotes Professor Cao Yunchun of China’s Civil Aviation University, as saying, “the existing airport in Beijing has an annual capacity of 75 million passengers. Last year it handled 73 million. In two years, it will be totally packed. And it cannot be expanded infinitely.”
Professor Cao is referring to Beijing’s Capital International Airport (BCIA). The minister in charge of the country’s Civil Aviation Administration, Li Xiaxing, explains that the schedule has become so tight that it has become impossible to add “even one more flight.”
Hence, even at full capacity, the Beijing Capital International Airport could only handle approximately 205,000 passengers per day. Therefore increasing capacity to 370,000 passengers per day with the new airport would come out of necessity and nothing more.
The Beijing Capital International Airport, covering 21 square kilometers, remains as no longer sufficient, although the recently constructed Terminal 3 alone is actually larger than Heathrow Airport in London, England. The fact that the local air traffic has surpassed that of the major European airports means that Beijing must adapt to changing circumstances. The city is in the midst of expanding its already large metropolis into a megacity to improve business conditions. Building a larger airport would suit the city’s long-term goals.
As Breaking Travel News reports, the new 54-square-kilometer site, located towards the south of the city, will serve Beijing, Tianjin and parts of Hubei province. Discussions are underway to provide the site with a high-speed rail link to downtown Beijing as well as Tianjin, Shenyang, Shijiazhuang and Shanghai.”
China’s remarkable economic growth stems mostly from rapid technological progress and urbanization. Millions upon millions of migrants from rural communities of Western and Central China have been swarming into the big cities, and lately Beijing has transformed into the most popular destination for them. Beijing is growing too crowded, so building a megacity offers more living space for residents and provides the perfect opportunity to build the world’s largest airport.
Another unique factor of China’s aviation industry, which has come into play, deals with geographical size. Most Asian countries are smaller, which includes Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. When passengers fly from airports in those respective countries, passengers are either international travelers or domestic ones intending to fly in or out of the country. These airports focus on international flights, while China’s airports play a reverse role.
“The majority of traffic going through Beijing is made up of domestic Chinese travelers. So far this year, Chinese passengers have outnumbered international travelers four-to-one at Beijing’s Capital Airport,” according to the Telegraph.
China’s aviation industry has also reaped big profits and is poised for greater growth. Last year, the industry enjoyed combined profits of 43 billion yuan, which is three times the figure from the previous year. China is forecast to purchase at least 4,300 new jet aircraft over the coming two decades, while Beijing has recently raised its target for the country by 25 per cent.
Professor Cao offers a correct assessment when he said, “we are expecting Beijing to play a major role in transport for the Asia-Pacific region.”
In comparison to the rest of Asia, China has a key advantage to keep its economic engine running into high gear. The country covers a large mass with big cities dotting the landscape. For Chinese business people, they must often fly to other domestic cities. Reducing travel times could enhance the efficiency of their business excursions.
China’s business community largely relies upon face-to-face meetings and attending social events to obtain better business deals and witness first-hand if potential partners are providing accurate accounts of their operations. More efficient air travel could sustain national economic growth and continue on with its expansion of global trade and investments into and out of the country.
One should understand that Beijing is not building the world’s biggest airport simply for bragging rights, but due to a necessity to meet rising demand for air travel through Beijing.