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Beijing opens world's largest airport terminal
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Beijing airport's new terminal, a major expansion project in preparation for the passenger surge during the Olympics, received its first commercial flight after opening on Friday morning.

Passengers on board the SC1151 flight from east China's Shandong Province got off the flight at 08:50.

The first flight took off from the terminal on 9:35 a.m. to Jinan of Shandong Province. The terminal would receive and send 42 flights on its first operation day, said Dong Zhiyi, general manager of the Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA).

With a floor space of 986,000 square meters -- more than doubling the total area of the first two terminals -- the new terminal building could be the largest of its kind in the world, said construction project manager Fan Jun.

The opening of the dragon-shaped building, which was designed by leading British architect Lord Foster and started construction on March 28, 2004, will enable the capital airport to handle 76 million passengers a year, against 53 million passengers in 2007.

The city is expected to receive more than five million people during the 2008 Olympic Games held in August.

Three highway roads are also under construction to connect the new terminal to the existing traffic system, and are planned to open before Olympics.

Six new airport bus lines were put into operation with 88 new buses. The bus fee remains 16 yuan (about 2.25 U.S. dollars), the same as existing lines. Shuffle vehicles were also equipped to carry passengers between the three terminals.

The new terminal will be used by six airlines initially, including Sichuan Airlines, Shandong Airlines, Qatar Airlines, Qantas Airways, British Airways and El Al Israel Airlines. A further 21 airlines companies would start using it on Mar. 29.

China is also upgrading several standby airports near Beijing for the Olympics by renovating terminals, enlarging tarmacs, lengthening runways and improving services.

(Xinhua News Agency February 29, 2008)


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