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Beijing to start testing flights out of its new international airport this week

At 1 million sqm, Beijing Daxing International Airport is set to be the largest airport in the world

Photo: N509FZ/Wikimedia Commons
If you live in Daxing district, don’t be surprised to see planes flying close to the ground tomorrow morning. Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines will all be landing their flagship aircraft models at Beijing Daxing International Airport on May 13 as part of the airport's pre-launch tests. Construction is slated to be completed by June 30 with its official opening scheduled for September 30.

The mammoth airport began construction in 2014 and is expected to become the world’s biggest airport upon completion, occupying an estimated 1 million sqm in area with 700,000sqm just for the terminal building alone.

Photo: Nord794ub/Wikimedia Commons

Currently being built in the southernmost reaches of Beijing near Tianjin and Hebei, it's hoped Daxing International Airport will serve as the international transport hub for the Jing-Jin-Ji economic zone, with plans to eventually handle 100 million passengers each year. This takes some of the pressure off Beijing's existing Capital International Airport (BCIA) which, as many of us who've stood in mile-long customs lines can attest, is officially the second-busiest airport in the world, coping with 101 million passengers annually (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the world's busiest, for those wondering).

Its terminal, designed by late Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid (her other Beijing works include Galaxy SOHO, Wangjing SOHO and soon-to-be-completed Leeza SOHO), looks like a starfish, with six ‘tentacles’ reportedly set to house integrated retail, dining and entertainment options – which, if it happens, places it already head and shoulders above BICA’s paltry offerings.

Those of you who've opted to live close to BICA due to the convenience of international flights may want to wait for Daxing Airport’s final list of airline carriers before renewing your lease. Currently, it’s been confirmed that China Southern Airlines will relocate its flights. International carriers that codeshare with the Chinese carrier, such as British Airways, KLM and Korean Air, may also move their operations to Daxing.

China Eastern is also slated to be moving certain flights to Daxing, though it will, at the very least, still maintain its lucrative Beijing-Shanghai route out of BICA. Most Star Alliance carriers, including United Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa, also look like they'll be staying put for now.

But if your flight does depart from Daxing, there are a couple of options for getting to the new airport that’s a whopping 46km from Tiananmen Square. One option is a 20-minute fast train from Beijing West train station, which will also connect to Xiong'an, home to China's administrative hub. Another is taking Line 20 of the Beijing Subway, with plans for it to eventually link Daxing International Airport to BCIA Terminal 3 and Beijing Railway Station.

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