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Airport Update: Beijing Capital International Airport

by Nicole Quaste

Dec 1, 2016
December 2016

Flying into China’s massive capital city proves a captivating experience. Beijing sprawls across 6,300 square miles, offering stunning views from every plane window. The vistas, however, soon dwindle upon arrival at Beijing Capital International Airport, the largest air hub in China and the second-largest and -busiest airport in the world.

Travel through Beijing Capital is burgeoning. Passenger numbers rose 9 percent in September alone, with more than 8.1 million travelers served. This trend is nothing new for Beijing Capital; traveler numbers steadily grew at 8.6 percent per year, doubling from 2004 to 2010.

Despite the rapidly rising number of patrons, overall growth at Beijing Capital slowed due to severe capacity restraints, and as a result the city will open its second major airport in 2019. The new airport, located in Beijing’s Daxing District, will serve 45 million annually in its first phase and expand to serve 100 million. Several major airlines, including China Eastern and China Southern, will relocate to the new hub upon the project’s completion. The opening of the second airport is expected to ease congestion at Beijing Capital for a smoother travel experience for the growing Chinese tourism market.

While the airport experienced many challenges over the past few years due to the growing numbers of travelers and a rise in Chinese tourism, vast improvements lie on the horizon. The airport is embarking on efficiency and safety improvements as it increases the number of flights and transitions airlines to the new Daxing airport. A joint venture between Thales and Beijing EasySky Technology will automate the airport’s terminal maneuvering space, area control space and airport operations to maximize efficiency and ease of travel.

Airline competition is also on the rise, as Qantas recently beat Virgin Australia to start flights beginning Jan. 25, 2017, after a seven-year hiatus, between Sydney (SYD) and Beijing (PEK). The airport also recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Fraport AG and Air China to expand flight frequencies between Beijing and Frankfurt (FRA).

Beijing Capital boasts three terminals, including supersized Terminal 3, the second-largest in the world after Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 3. Since its opening in 2008 for the Summer Olympics, Beijing’s Terminal 3 has undergone massive renovation and expansion projects. Known for its luxury and convenience, the terminal offers a 78,000-square-foot service area with business and internet centers, banks and other amenities, as well as a $240 million luggage transfer system, allowing for easy and accurate tracking and quick luggage retrieval. Aesthetic projects continue, but travelers already enjoy the indoor imperial-style gardens and the iconic red roof symbolizing luck in Chinese culture. The terminal’s “global kitchen” offers 72 stores for a wide variety of food options.

The next several years will see big changes for Beijing Capital, but the improvements thus far look promising.


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