Designed with the appearance of a giant six-armed alien starfish, the Beijing Daxing International Airport is all set to open by end of September. While it took only five years to build, it’s looked up to be one of the world’s best airports, joining the ranks of Singapore’s Changi and Qatar’s Hamad. At a huge cost of about 120 billion yuan, Beijing’s new airport is efficient and high-tech in operation. Perhaps, perfectly designed to take pressure off the overcrowded Beijing Capital International Airport! By 2025, the new airport is expected to handle 72 million passengers every year. And by 2040, the number is expected to grow to 100 million.
The airport will be qualified to handle flights on Sept 15, taking a big step forward toward its official opening before Sept 30. Though the specific opening date, so far has not been finalized by the airport administration, China Southern Airlines has revealed to operate its first flight from Daxing around Sept 20. However, the new airport has undergone 750 tests involving over 500 flights and 50,000 simulated passengers. The first full-scale test was done in July, involving more than 6,000 people, including more than 1,000 pretend passengers. After a complete 6 months evaluation, the airport will soon get an operating license from China’s Civil Aviation Administration and the airport facility will welcome the first batch of flights. China’s three major airlines; China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Air China will be sending their flagship airplanes to take off from the airport on the day of opening ceremony. Also, China United Airlines, Capital Airlines and Hebei Airlines are expected to have one plane each landing at the airport on the inaugural day.
‘Alien Star Fish’ Design by Zaha Hadid
The airport looks like a giant six-armed alien starfish squatting over the landscape. It’s been designed by Zaha Hadid, the legendary Iraqi-British architect renowned for her experimental and curvilinear work. Along with French planners ADPI and the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design, Zaha designed and structured a flowing, interconnected form of the terminal building in ‘alien star fish design’ creating a stunning piece of architecture. Probably, the design evolved from traditional Chinese architecture that organized interconnected spaces around a central courtyard. The design made the airport extremely space efficient, with a journey of just 600 metres from security to the furthest gate. The central atrium, with curves like a rolling landscape, is supported by 8 giant C-shaped columns, each with a 106-metre wide skylight at the top that fills the terminal with natural light. These 8 columns accompany the departure lounges traditionally representing the five Chinese courtyards.
Daxing as a Transfer Airport
Daxing International is more designed as a transfer airport. With a convenient layout, passengers need to walk only short distances for flight transfers, and could save more than an hour of transit time compared with the existing capital airport. Also, with a variety of self-service and other advanced technologies facilities, it will give Beijing the much-needed impetus to attract transfer passengers from Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea.
Daxing to be efficient, high-tech operation
The new airport is high-tech. It has adopted advanced technologies including self-service check-in and smart security checks to save time for passengers. With over 400 self-service check-in kiosks, 80 percent of check-ins is self-service and require passengers to line up for no more than 10 minutes. Also the smart security check channels can handle 260 passengers per hour, 40 percent much faster than the traditional means. Not to forget the completely paperless boarding facility since the airport will be using facial recognition technology in boarding procedures.
Luxury ‘Retail Babylon’
Apart from the spectacular design and hi-tech facilities, Daxing will have a spectacular line-up of luxury fashion and beauty brands. The landside facilities will be operated by China Resources Land that promises to include the usual shops, restaurants, entertainment, childcare facilities and even a pet hotel. For duty free shopping, the China Duty Free Group has acquired 10-year contract to supply duty free alcohol, tobacco, food, fashion and beauty products.