Airport construction takes off in China
One of the most potent symbols of China’s rise in the past few decades has been the gleaming airports that have sprung up on the edge of the nation’s cities.
It is less than five years since the vast Norman Foster-designed airport in Beijing opened, but China’s cabinet has just approved a new €8.4 billion airport for the south of the city.
The airport will have six runways for civilian aircraft and a seventh for military use, the China Daily reported. It is scheduled to open by the end of 2018 and will have a capacity of 70 million passengers a year by 2025. It was mooted back in 2008 but only received approval from the central military commission at the end of last year.
The current main airport, Beijing Capital International Airport, to the north of the city, has been ranked as the world’s second-busiest airport for three years and handled 81.8 million passenger movements in 2012.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China has said the country plans to build 82 airports and expand 101 existing ones across the country from 2011 to 2015. Last year, the national development and reform commission approved 24 projects to build airports and expand existing airports, with an estimated investment of about €12 billion.
Local governments have been building airports at a furious rate, raising fears of overcapacity. But experts point out that in 2011 China had 180 commercial airports, which is still a low figure when you consider the size of the population.
Many of the airports being built are in the poorer regions of western and central China, as local officials build the facilities in the hope of attracting trade/tourism.
This construction wave has provided business opportunities for Irish companies. Aer Rianta International, the duty-free arm of Dublin Airport Authority, last year opened 11 retail units at Kunming’s Changshui International Airport.