Beijing's new Daxing International Airport officially opened for business on Wednesday -- in time for celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China on October 1.
Chinese president Xi Jinping, opened the terminal just before noon. The airport's maiden flight was a China Southern Airbus A380 that took off from one of the airport's four runways. China Southern is Daxing's main tenant.
The futuristic airport was designed by the late Zaha Hadid. Its form is in a starfish-shape with five concourses and four runways, with plans for up to three more in the future to handle 620,000 flights a year. It cost the Chinese government around $17 billion, according to the airport, and was completed in less than five years.
Located 46km south of Tiananmen Square, Beijing Daxing International Airport will operate at full capacity in 2040, with eight runways and the potential to receive 100 million passengers per year.
Daxing is the Chinese capital’s second international airport and meant to ease pressure on Beijing Capital International Airport, which handled more than 100 million passengers in last year, second in the world to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest.
Flights from other airlines due to move to the airport, with a three-letter code PKX, were also scheduled for later in the day. Initially, the only flights making use of the airport are domestic.
China is expected to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest aviation market, according to the International Air Transport Association by the mid-2020s, and to handle some 1.6 billion air travelers a year by 2037.