Construction of an enormous, new international passenger airport in Beijing began on Friday, the state media reported, to support the booming demand for travel to and from China that has stretched the capacity of existing facilities.
The new facility located in southern Beijing is designed to accommodate 72 million passengers annually by 2025, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The airport is set to cost 80 billion yuan ($13 billion), is to be completed in five years, and is expected to be able to handle 620,000 flights per year.
Travel demand in China has soared as the country has grown to become the world’s second-largest economy and Beijing’s current International airport in the city’s northeast has begun to exceed capacity.
Beijing International Airport was the world’s second busiest airport in terms of passengers in 2013, Xinhua said, ranking behind Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the United States. But it is also the airport with the world’s most delays, according to a study last year by US-based air travel information service FlightStats, which said just 18 percent of flights were on time.
As many as 42 percent of the departures from Beijing suffered delays of 45 minutes or longer, the survey said.
Xinhua cited aviation authorities as saying that the current airport is unable to handle an additional 300 flights daily and almost 10 million passengers annually due to constraints.
Jet manufacturer Airbus said China will surpass the US in 2023 as the world’s largest domestic air traffic market in terms of passenger numbers, as economic development pushes demand for air travel. Beijing also has another smaller commercial airport in the city’s southern area.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s top economic planning agency, approved the airport plan earlier this month.