China’s Daxing International Eyes September Launch

 - September 11, 2019, 8:54 AM

Beijing’s upcoming mega-airport, Daxing International, is one step closer to opening ahead of its planned September 30 launch date following the successful completion of six comprehensive simulation exercises, Chinese regulators announced on Wednesday. According to an agency statement, a final round of inspections was also carried out between August 28 and 30, identifying 157 shortcomings. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) did not elaborate on the findings but said the airport could become operational as of September 15 pending rectification of all outstanding issues.

Daxing, billed as the world's largest airport upon completion, has noticeably accelerated over recent weeks with a series of flight tests, full-scale drills, and airport inspections. The latest simulation exercise on September 6 involved more than 13,000 “passengers” and 110 flights. Daxing’s cargo operations, as well as its navigation, security, and customs systems also underwent significant testing.

On August 26, five China-based airlines—China Eastern, Capital Airlines, Hebei Airlines, China United Airlines, and Chengdu Airlines—completed a series of low visibility flight tests including a Category III B approach, a head-up display RVR 75-meter takeoff, and testing of Daxing’s advanced-surface movement guidance and control systems.

Daxing will serve as a second hub for state-owned airlines China Southern and China Eastern, which have largely operated from their respective bases, Guangzhou and Shanghai. China Southern will take 40 percent of Daxing’s air traffic resources while China Eastern will hold 30 percent. China Southern is expected to launch flights from Daxing from September 20.

Air China will gain a foothold at both Beijing airports after being offered a 10 percent share of Daxing’s air traffic resources. Both China Southern and China Eastern harbor ambitious plans to eventually base a fleet of 200 aircraft at the new mega-hub as they pursue rapid international expansion and compete against Air China on lucrative routes to and from Beijing.

Meanwhile, a consortium consisting of low-cost carrier Beijing Capital Airlines, HNA Technic, and Beijing General Aviation Company (BGCA) will provide third-party aircraft maintenance at Daxing. Plans call for the new joint venture company to gradually expand the scope and scale of its maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) activities.

Under the CAAC’s resource allocation plan, foreign carriers, including airlines based in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, can choose to operate from Beijing’s existing Capital International Airport or Daxing or both. British Airways will move its operations to Daxing from October 27 with daily service to London. LOT Polish Airlines will begin four-times-weekly flights from Warsaw to Daxing, effective October 28, while maintaining three weekly flights from Beijing Capital.  Finland’s flag carrier Finnair will offer three weekly flights from Helsinki to Daxing starting November 3.