Beijing airport opens its third runway

Beijing Capital International Airport''s (BCIA''s) third runway became operational on Monday, easing the pressure of air third runway at China''s busiest airport. The airport handles 1,100 aircraft movements (arrivals and departures) each day. This is expected to rise to 1,500 to 1,600, and peak at 1,900 during the Olympics next year.

This new runway is 3,800 metres (2.35 miles) long and 60 meters wide. Equipped with an advanced landing guidance system, it passed appraisal by the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) on 20 October, and went into operation on schedule.

Part of an expansion project that includes a new terminal building, 100 new aprons, a cargo zone and auxiliary facilities, the airport will be able to accommodate 60 million passengers and handle 1.8 million tons of cargo each year when the project is complete in February 2008. It will be able to accommodate the largest airliner in the world, the Airbus A380 superjumbo.

Meanwhile, the civil aviation authority has submitted a proposal for the site of the planned second Beijing international airport to the central government for approval. Lixian town in Daxing district, to the south of the city near the Yongding River, has been reserved as a candidate site.

Contenders for the site of the new airport have included Langfang in neighboring Hebei province, Tianjin municipality, and the Nanyuan airport in Daxing District. But Lixian town, in the plains area of the Yongding River, has easy access to the expressways leading to downtown Beijing and ideal for a large international airport, say Chinese officials.

Experts believe a second airport will greatly boost the economic development of the whole Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area.