Beijing arms itself in the race to the skies

2 min reading time

Published on 14/01/19 - Updated on 17/03/22

In 2025, the new Beijing airport will be able to handle as many passengers as London Heathrow or Paris Charles de Gaulle. It will complete the Chinese capital's current airport which accommodated close to 100 million passengers in 2017.

Beijing Daxing International Airport, 46 kilometres from downtown Beijing and 70 kilometres from Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA), will open in September and will accommodate 72 million passengers per year by 2025. It will support Beijing's central position in global air traffic; the Chinese capital already has the highly efficient Beijing Capital International Airport, which is the second largest airport in the world in terms of passengers (95.8 million in 2017).

This offers a development opportunity for some airlines such as China Eastern Airlines. Its CEO, Liu Shaoyong, estimates that 40% of the passengers at the new airport in 2025 will be transported by his company.

Air traffic race

Giant airports are a real issue in terms of attractiveness for urban areas and represent an economic windfall that creates jobs. The British government has given the green light for the creation of a new runway at London Heathrow - increasing its annual capacity to 130 million passengers - estimating that this would create nearly 60,000 new jobs by 2050.

In Turkey, the new Istanbul airport will replace the current hub that handled nearly 64 million passengers in 2017 (15th place worldwide). With this new tool, which will eventually be able to accommodate more than 150 million passengers, the government wants to make its agglomeration one of the leaders in air traffic in the future.  

Dubai is continuing along its journey towards excess by expanding Al Maktoum International Airport in order to accommodate 260 million passengers in the coming decades. Its current airport (DXB), which is almost saturated with more than 88 million passengers handled in 2017 (3rd place worldwide), celebrated its billionth passenger last week.

On the other side of the Atlantic, growth objectives are now more qualitative than quantitative. 13 billion dollars are being invested to modernize John F. Kennedy International Airport, to create new luxury boutiques and to increase its annual traffic by 15 million passengers.

Aviation, born in France and the United States with Clément Ader and the Wright brothers, developed mainly during the 20th century on these two continents. At the beginning of the 21st century, the game is moving to Asia where giant new infrastructures are being built. While their development will boost the appeal of the agglomerations concerned, new modes of transport could complement it. Thus, just as the TGV competes with air traffic between urban areas, hyperloop travel could represent an even faster alternative in the coming years.

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