On the southern border of Beijing is a gigantic field occupied by a massive “starfish”, a structure with six arms. It’s the Beijing Daxing International Airport (BDIA).
On Sept 25, President Xi Jinping announced the official opening of the BDIA. The new airport complex, consisting of a main terminal, a supporting service building and a parking lot, covers an area of about 1.4 million square meters. That’s equivalent to 63 Tian’anmen Squares, according to Beijing Review.
The new airport is expected to ease pressure on the Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA). “BCIA handled more than 100 million passengers in 2018, which is close to its capacity,” said Cui Xiaohao, an official with the Beijing Municipal Development and Reform Commission, at a press conference in January.
By 2021, the new airport is expected to handle 45 million passengers a year. By 2025, that number is expected to grow to 72 million.
Designed by legendary Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, BDIA was listed as the first of the “seven wonders of the modern world near completion” by the Guardian in 2015.
The airport is the world’s first to be designed with double-deck departure and arrival platforms. “It’s more efficient for the passengers than any other large airport terminal of the same size in the world,” Guo Yanchi, the chief engineer in charge of construction, told China Daily.
The terminal was designed to shorten the walking distance for passengers, Guo said, adding that it is only 600 meters, or less than an eight-minute walk, from the center of the terminal to the furthest boarding gate in each wing.
BDIA has also adopted various new technologies to make it smarter and more efficient.
According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, 86 percent of check-ins can be done through self-check-in kiosks, and 76 percent of luggage can be checked automatically with the help of self-service bag-drop machines.
Cui said the airport has become an important economic pillar in the development of southern Beijing.
“Daxing airport is opening the south gate of the capital and will help gradually shift Beijing’s non-capital functions to neighboring locations and upgrade the region’s transport, especially in the south. It’s also a good way to boost co-ordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area,” Cui told China Daily.
(Translator & Editor: Wang Xingwei AND Luo Sitian)