Beijing's new airport approved: airlines to be split by alliance

By John Walton, July 21 2011
Beijing's new airport approved: airlines to be split by alliance

Beijing's new airport has been given the go-ahead for construction to begin, with a reported eight runways, 55 square kilometres of space and capacity to take an astounding 400 million passengers a year.

The airport will be nearly 50 km to the south of Beijing, and will cover two towns in the Daxing area of the Beijing city municipality.

According to the head of the China Civil Airport Association, quoted in China's official English language newspaper China Daily, flights will be split between the new "Beijing South" airport and the current Beijing Capital airport according to airline alliance.

With the Star Alliance well-established at member airline Air China's base at the enormous Terminal 3 at the current Capital airport, look for oneworld airlines like Qantas and Cathay Pacific, plus potentially SkyTeam airlines including China Southern and China Eastern to be shifted south.

Alliance co-location is an interesting idea, and has previously been limited to airlines sharing terminals at a single airport. For example, at London Heathrow, the Star Alliance has most of Terminal 1 and SkyTeam has most of Terminal 4. But there are still spillovers to other terminals.

Beijing Capital is running to capacity, as we reported in January: authorities have said "it is now impossible to add even one more flight to the tight daily schedule of the capital airport".

The current Capital airport takes an already-impressive 74 million passengers across nearly 500,000 flights a year, but has only three runways.

Compare that with 400 million planned passengers at Beijing South and you see why it's going to need eight runways. That's one more than the previous record-holders, Chicago O'Hare and Dallas/Fort Worth in the USA.

A further ninth runway will be for military and official use.

And that's just the "first phase" of the Beijing South project, which will also have an airport rail link into the city to whizz passengers into Beijing in under half an hour.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

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