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New airport for Beijing confirmed
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A bird's-eye view of Terminal 3 at Beijing Capital International Airport, which will be put into trial use next month. Ma Wenxiao


A second airport will be built in Beijing, a senior official said yesterday.


Scheduled to open in 2015, the new facility will provide additional capacity once Capital International reaches its maximum.


A new, third terminal at Capital will open for testing at the end of next month.


Yang Guoqing, deputy minister of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC), said at a press conference there will be no further large-scale developments at Capital.


He dismissed rumors the second international airport will be built in Beijing's Daxing district.


"The location of the second airport has not been decided, because choosing the right location is a very complicated matter," he said.


Yang said the economic development strategy of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area and the pattern of passenger and cargo flow has to be considered.


The new airport should also not come into conflict with the existing facilities in Beijing and Tianjin in terms of air space, he said.


The CAAC is currently conducting a study of several world cities that have two or more airports, including New York and Shanghai, to help it decide on the best location, Yang said.


His remarks marked the first time a senior CAAC official has spoken about the plan to build a second international airport.


The idea for the facility emerged in 2002, after Beijing won the rights to host the 2008 Olympics.


While the Beijing municipal government and the CAAC suggested expanding Capital airport to handle the high passenger flow during the Games, authorities in Tianjin municipality and Hebei province proposed the development of a new airport within their regions as a solution.


The central government decided in 2003 on the expansion of Capital and ordered all works to be completed before 2008, Zhang Guobao, deputy minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said yesterday.


The expanded airport has been designed to handle 76 million passengers and 1.8 million tons of cargo a year by 2015.


The new third terminal has been billed as the largest and most advanced in the country, with the 27 billion yuan ($3.75 billion) investment expected to be recovered in 12 years.


Two areas of the terminal - T3C and T3E - have been completed and passed system tests last year.


Zhang, who is also chief commander of the airport expansion project, said the first batch of six airlines, including two domestic carriers and four foreign ones, will move into T3 on Feb 29. A second batch of 26 airlines, including Air China and 11 Star Alliance members, will move in on March 26.


A third section of the terminal, T3D, is still undergoing interior work and will be completed in May, officials said.


The later date is due to work on T3D starting two years after T3C and T3E, Ding Jiangang, the project's chief designer, said.


On completion, T3D will receive foreign athletes and officials who arrive in charter flights during the Olympics. This group of visitors accounts for at least 65 percent of the total number of foreign guests, Zhang Zhizhong, president of the Capital Airports Holding Co, said.


Beijing Capital International Airport, built in 1959 and expanded in 1999, is designed to receive 35 million passengers a year. But according to official figures, last year it received more than 52 million.


(China Daily January 31, 2008)


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