Beijing's Daxing International Inches Closer to Launch

 - September 17, 2019, 10:34 AM
China Eastern Airlines invested heavily in the construction of Beijing's Daxing International Airport and plans to base 200 airplanes at the new hub in the coming years. (Photo: Airbus)

The highly anticipated launch of Beijing’s upcoming mega-airport, Daxing International, is nearing fruition following the official opening of China Eastern’s two operational control centers on Wednesday. According to state-owned media reports, the development marks the completion of all necessary tasks required for operational readiness.

Authorities designed Daxing’s airport control center to mirror that of Shanghai and to meet the operational needs of China Eastern Airlines, which has invested heavily in the construction and operation of Beijing’s new $17.5 billion mega-hub.

Wednesday also saw the official opening of the China Eastern-Daxing ground control center, developed to oversee the monitoring and coordination of ground-based flight operations. China Eastern’s total investment, which reportedly exceeds $16.8 billion, includes ambitious plans to eventually base a fleet of 200 aircraft over the coming years.

China Eastern and its low-cost arm, China United Airlines, together with four additional carriers—Air China, China Southern, Capital Airlines, and Hebei Airlines—have reached the final stages of preparation to launch first flights from Daxing International. While Chinese officials had previously indicated a possible launch date of September 15, the airport’s opening appears more likely to happen closer to the original September 30 target.

Billed as the world’s largest airport upon completion, Daxing has seen work accelerate over recent weeks with a series of flight tests, full-scale drills, and airport inspections. According to Chinese media reports, three airlines—China Eastern, China United Airlines, and China Southern—scheduled a third round of flight verifications tests on Wednesday, using Boeing 777s, Boeing 737s, Airbus A330s, and Airbus A321s. Xiamen Airlines and Hebei Airlines also carried out several emergency simulation exercises.

Wednesday’s agenda also included the approval of 155 international routes from Daxing and other airports across the country, including highly coveted Paris and London routes. China Eastern Airlines received the green light to launch flights to Paris, Moscow, Tokyo Haneda, and Seoul from Daxing, while China Southern won approval for Moscow, Tokyo Haneda, and the Korean cities Busan and Cheongju.

In a separate development, Boeing on Tuesday raised its annual outlook for China’s aircraft demand on the back of a rapidly rising middle class and improvements in infrastructure. According to the U.S. aircraft manufacturer, China will require a total of 8,090 new aircraft over the next 20 years, including 5,960 new single-aisle airplanes and 1,780 widebody aircraft. Boeing estimates the new deliveries worth nearly $1.3 trillion while services such as cargo operations and maintenance account for another $1.6 trillion.