Chinese president Xi Jinping has presided over the inauguration of a second international airport for Beijing with a terminal billed as the world’s biggest.
Beijing Daxing International Airport, built in less than five years at a cost of 120 billion yuan (£13.5 billion/$16.8 billion), is designed to handle 72 million passengers a year.
The airline’s first commercial flight, a China Southern Airlines plane bound for the southern province of Guangdong, took off on Wednesday afternoon, state broadcaster CCTV reported.
Inside the brand new £13.5billion Beijing Daxing International Airport, which was officially opened today
The airport was built in less than five years and is designed to handle 72 million passengers a year. It was designed by the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid
The airport’s builders say travellers will need to walk no more than 600 metres (2,000ft) to reach any boarding gate
An aerial view of the new Beijing Daxing International Airport. It has a terminal billed as the world’s biggest
A China Southern Airlines passenger plane, the first commercial passenger jet to take off from the new airport, departs for the southern province of Guangdong
Six more flights took off later for Shanghai and other destinations.
The Chinese capital’s main airport is the world’s second-busiest after Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and is nearing capacity.
Daxing, designed by the late Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, includes a terminal billed as the world’s biggest at one million square metres (11 million square feet).
Despite that, its builders say travellers will need to walk no more than 600 metres (2,000ft) to reach any boarding gate.
Check-in staff at the airport get prepared to welcome the very first passengers to Beijing Daxing International
The vast, star-shaped airport is 30 miles south of downtown Beijing. It has four runways, with plans for as many as three more
Airport staff carry Chinese flags during the first day of operation of Beijing Daxing International Airport
Both foreign and domestic carriers have plans to move their operations to the new airport including British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Finnair
A staff member stands near shops in the terminal hall after the launching ceremony for Beijing Daxing International Airport
The vast, star-shaped airport is 30 miles south of downtown Beijing. It has four runways, with plans for as many as three more.
Both foreign and domestic carriers have plans to move their operations to the new airport, and British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Finnair have already announced new routes to tap into the potential of the modern aviation hub.
The SkyTeam alliance, which includes Delta, Air France and Dutch airline KLM, was also expected to move there, along with local partners Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines.
Invited guests gather in the brand new airport for its launch ceremony. The SkyTeam alliance, which includes Delta, Air France and Dutch airline KLM, is expected to move to the new airport
Chinese president Xi Jinping presides over the inauguration of the new airport ahead of the 70th founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China
But when contacted by AFP last week, Delta and Air France said the decision whether to move airports had not yet been made.
The third-largest Chinese airline, Air China, is expected to keep flying the bulk of its flights from Beijing Capital International Airport.
Aviation analyst John Strickland said: ‘Switching airports can be a complex decision for airlines.
‘Airlines would prefer to see a new airport open and overcome teething problems before moving services from another tried and tested airport.’
Beijing has a third airport, Nanyuan, for domestic flights, but the government says that will close once Daxing is in operation.