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Aviation: Burgeoning China

Amazing figures associated with size and growth of the Chinese aviation market have just arrived in The Aviation Oracle's in box. Most casual observers might assume - correctly as it happens - that the USA is the world's largest aviation market, but that's set to change with China (and possibly India) likely to overtake it during the coming years.

100m passenger club

Within the next two weeks, Beijing Capital (PEK) will almost certainly become only the second airport in the world to handle in excess of 100m+ passengers in a year. More than 92.6m travellers passed through its doors between January and the end of November 2018, representing a growth of 5.6% compared to the first 11 months of 2018. Just another 7.4m will to enable it to take its place alongside Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International in a rather exclusive club - and last year PEK did 8.1m pax in December. Beijing's solo ascent to the top flight isn't being challenged as no other facility comes anywhere close in terms of annual throughput; next in the rankings is Dubai International (DXB) which handled a 'mere' 88m customers in 2017. However, with its traffic slowly being transferred to Dubai World Central and its runways being fully utilised, it's unlikely DXB will ever reach the 100m milestone. Each of the other airports near the top of the league table – Tokyo Haneda, Los Angeles International, Chicago O’Hare and London Heathrow – have to find at least 15m more passengers if they are to breach the 100+ ppa (passengers per annum) barrier.

Enter Daxing

The 100m+ celebrations at Beijing Capital are likely to be short lived though, because in September next year the new six-runway, $12bn Daxing International Airport is expected to open 28 miles south of the Chinese capital. In its first phase it will be capable of handling more than 70m passengers, and it is expected to be used by 72m ppa by 2025. Further development including a second terminal will increase capacity to between 150m and 170m ppa. Daxing will be linked to Beijing by the city’s metro, as well as a 150mph rail link that will take visitors downtown to just 11 minutes.

Daxing International Airport will open in 2019 and will eventually be able to handle 150m passengers per annum. (Zaha Hadid Architects)

The new airport will have six runways and two large passenger terminals, as well as hangars and extensive freight facilities.

Two years ago it was agreed that members of the SkyTeam alliance, including China Southern Airlines, will move to Daxing when it opens. That will leave Capital handling Star Alliance, oneworld and non-aligned carriers. To date China Eastern Airlines, China United Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines, Hebei Airlines, Spring Airlines, Okay Airways, Juneyao Airlines, XiamenAir, Donghai Airlines and China Postal Airlines have signed up to use the facilities at Da