China’s decision to allow foreign airlines to decide for themselves whether or not to relocate from Beijing Capital International Airport to the new Daxing International Airport (BDIA) appears to have raised unforeseen complications, as most of the carriers have expressed a desire not to move due to the cost of equipment transfer. Meanwhile, staff must bear the extra cost of commuting to the new facility or look for new accommodation when the airline moves its operations, according to Lu Shen, an official at the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). Lu also noted that it takes massive planning well in advance of any move when an airline decides to relocate its operations from one airport to another.
Designed to accommodate a maximum of 85 million passengers a year, Capital Airport handled 100.98 million passengers in 2018. Lu declined to comment when asked whether or not the CAAC should have allowed the airlines a choice.
Daxing Airport lays some 30 miles from the city center, at the border of Beijing and Langfang prefecture in Heibei province, while Capital Airport lays 20 miles northeast. With the imminent opening of Daxing, Beijing Nanyuan Airport, built in 1910, will cease operations. Plans call for the 26-mile-long Beijing Daxing International Airport Express rail line to open on the same day.
At press time British Airways, Royal Brunei Airlines, Finnair, Royal Air Maroc, Lot Polish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, and Himalaya Airlines plan to start operations at Daxing with their winter schedules. Ten Chinese carriers, including China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, will move to Daxing, while Air China remains at Capital Airport. Domestic carrier China United Airlines has confirmed plans to use Daxing as a hub to launch international service to Japan, South Korea, and points in Southeast Asia.
Daxing resembles a phoenix, consisting of one terminal with five corridors and 88 gates. The 11,000,000-square-foot structure ranks as the largest single airport terminal in the world. Designed by renowned Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, the airport cost $11.7 billion to build.