Beijing is expected to start the construction of a second international airport in 2010, a top civil aviation official said on Saturday.
The General Administration of Civil Aviation (CAAC) said late January that it had submitted a report to the central government on the selection of a site for a second international airport of Beijing to ease traffic pressure.
"The final result of the site selection will be announced the year after next, and the construction will begin that year," said Yang Guoqing, deputy head of CAAC.
Already with the Beijing Capital International Airport in the north of the city, it seems very hard to find an ideal place for the new airport.
The western area is not appropriate due to complicated terrain, said Yang on the sideline of the annual session of the country's top political advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
The eastern part is not suitable, either, because another airport has been in operation in Tianjin, a coastal city very close to Beijing, he said.
Taking into account of terrain and airflow factors, the southern part is a relatively favorable choice, he said.
"But we have to consider keeping coordinated development among different regions. Therefore, the final site will not be necessarily be located in an area under Beijing's jurisdiction," he added.
Geographically, Beijing and Tianjian are almost completely surrounded by Hebei Province.
Yang said late January that Beijing is expected to put the second international airport into use around 2015.
The Beijing Capital International Airport, China's busiest, handled 53.47 million passengers last year, putting it among the world's 10 busiest.
The airport opened its new Terminal 3 just a week ago, which is a major expansion project in preparation for the passenger surge during the Olympic Games in August.
With a floor space of 986,000 square meters -- more than double the total area of the first two terminals -- the new building could be the largest of its kind in the world.
The dragon-shaped building, built at a cost of 27 billion yuan (3.8 billion U.S. dollars), was designed by leading British architect Lord Foster and started construction on March 28, 2004.
It will give the airport a handling capacity of 76 million passengers a year, more than double the previous 36 million.
The airport is expected to receive about 5.56 million people during the Olympics period.
(Xinhua News Agency March 9, 2008)