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15th September 2011
Beijing has started construction of a new giant airport which could see 120 million passengers pass through the capital every year
Beijing Daxing airport, due to open in 2015, is set to be the world's busiest aviation hub and is expected to handle 370,000 passengers a day.
Only three years since Beijing Capital Airport opened up the massive Terminal 3, plans to further expand China's aviation industry are already underway.
Li Jiaxing, the minister in charge of China's Civil Aviation Administration said that an enormous boom in the demand for flights has already stretched the capital's existing facilities to breaking point, "It is impossible to add even one more flight to the tight daily schedule of the Capital airport.”
Cao Yunchun, a professor at the country's Civil Aviation University said, "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.”
However, the majority of air-traffic flying in and out of Beijing is domestic, and so far this year, domestic flights have outnumbered international travellers by four-to-one at Capital airport.
The new Beijing Daxing airport, which is currently an hour's drive from the city centre, is expected to have eight runways for civilian use and one for military. Denver international airport currently has the most runways in the world with six.
There are also plans for a high-speed train to connect the airport to central Beijing in just 30 minutes.
The new project has set alarm bells ringing for environmentalists who have warned that an increase in flights will contribute to the country's pollution problems and high greenhouse gas emissions.
Last year, Chinese authorities reported a £3.9 billion profit in the aviation industry. In the coming years, China is planning to buy at least 4,300 new aircraft and Boeing has recently upgraded its targets for the country by 25%.
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