China / Society

Beijing airport to renovate its oldest runway

By ZHAO LEI (China Daily) Updated: 2015-05-11 07:22

Beijing project will affect 200 daily flights, with some passengers diverted to Tianjin

Beijing Capital International Airport, the busiest aviation hub in China, will soon renovate its oldest runway, a task that will affect about 200 flights daily, the airport operator announced on its micro blog.

The airport's central runway will undergo a complete renovation from May 23 to 28, the statement said. The last overhaul was in 1996.

During the project, the airport will use just two runways, the company said, adding that it has urged airlines to reduce or adjust flights to Beijing. The city has two airports that serve commercial aviation-Beijing Capital and Beijing Nanyuan International Airport.

Flights operated by 11 domestic airlines, including Air China and China Southern Airlines, will be affected by the weeklong project. Some flights will be diverted to Tianjin Binhai International Airport and Shijiazhuang Zhengding International Airport during the period, the statement said.

The company said it will ask air traffic control authorities to give priority to flights that must use the airport during the project.

"The 3,000-meter central runway was put into use in 1958, when the airport began operating," said Zheng Jia'nan, a publicity officer at the Beijing airport. "The previous comprehensive repair took place in 1996, so the past 19 years of heavy use have taken their toll, including some serious safety hazards for flights."

Beijing Youth Daily cited an unnamed official at the airport as saying the renovation will mean a reduction of more than 200 flights a day.

He added that the Tianjin airport will reimburse passengers bound for Beijing for the cost of rail travel between the cities.

Beijing Capital, which served more than 86 million passengers on about 582,000 flights last year, has been listed as the second-busiest airport in the world by passenger numbers for five consecutive years, behind Atlanta International Airport in the United States, according to Airports Council International.

As of January, 96 airlines operated scheduled flights out of Beijing, connecting the capital with 133 places on the Chinese mainland and 111 destinations in 54 nations and regions.

The large number of flights has far exceeded the airport's designed capacity, speeding up the wear on equipment and facilities, airport officials said.

As part of the solution, the city is building a new international airport in Daxing district, which will involve 79.98 billion yuan ($13.1 billion) of investment.

It is planned for the new facility, which will replace the Nanyuan airport, to handle 72 million passengers and 2 million metric tons of cargo annually. It is expected to become operational in 2019.

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