Beijing’s dreams of a new aviation hub are coming true, with the unveiling of Beijing’s Daxing Airport last Monday.
The airport, made up of 1.6 million cubic meters of concrete, 52,000 tonnes of steel and five kilometers worth of gates, is anticipated to serve 45 million passengers a year upon its opening in 2019, and eventually grow to serve over 100 million passengers a year. Daxing will complement the current Beijing Capital International Airport, with both airports serving the busy capital region.
Daxing, which means “big star” in Chinese, is set to become the main hub for Skyteam carriers in Beijing. Out of China’s three major airlines, China Eastern (Shanghai) and China Southern (Guangzhou) are both set to base at least a total of 400 aircraft at Daxing by 2025. Air China, China’s flag carrier and a member of Star Alliance, will keep its current position at Beijing Capital, where it has around 40% of the daily slot limit.
China Eastern and China Southern are currently operating out of the constraints Terminal 2 in Beijing, with slot limitations and China’s “one route, one airline” policy towards international routes limiting their growth out of Beijing. However, the new airport will allow both airlines to grow and establish second mega hubs outside of their traditional hubs and will give Skyteam its rightful home in Beijing.
China Eastern and China Southern will account for about 80% of the total flights from Daxing, however, eight other airlines have already signed agreements with the Chinese government to move their flights to Daxing once it opens.
With Star Alliance and Skyteam members having their own airports, oneworld members are left without a rightful home. Oneworld members currently have their own codeshare arrangements with Chinese airlines, such as American Airlines with China Southern, British Airways with China Eastern, and Cathay Pacific with Air China. According to a oneworld alliance spokesperson, the Chinese government has guaranteed slots to all airlines who currently fly to Beijing, but the alliance has not made any decisions regarding which airport they will fly to.
When Daxing Airport opens, flights from Beijing’s little-known Nanyuan Airport will cease as well, with China Eastern Airlines subsidiary China United Airlines (CUA) moving its operations to Daxing. Nanyuan Airport handles over three million passengers annually and had a multi-million dollar expansion in 2012. CUA is the only operator from Nanyuan, and has a fleet of 37 Boeing 737 aircraft.
Daxing Airport began construction in 2014. The design of the airport includes seven runways, five of them being parallel, and a central terminal with six spokes. The 80 billion yuan ($12.14bn USD) project is 42 miles south of Beijing, and will be connected by expressway and high-speed rail to the city.
Featured image by Reuters.