China / Society

New Chengdu airport on course for 2020

By Huang Zhiling In Chengdu (China Daily) Updated: 2016-06-17 08:16

Chengdu will have its second international airport in operation by 2020 to become the third city in China to have two airports for commercial flights, after Beijing and Shanghai, if work proceeds on schedule.

Construction started last month and is expected to finish in 2019, according to the airport authority.

Pan Gangjun, general manager of the Sichuan Province Airport Group Co, said three runways will be built. The airport will able to handle 40 million passengers and 700,000 tons of cargo annually by 2025.

The long-term plan is six runways, 90 million passengers and 2 million tons of cargo, Pan said.

Called Chengdu Tianfu International Airport, the new facility is located in Jianyang, about 50 kilometers from downtown Chengdu. The airport is expected to cost nearly 72 billion yuan ($10.9 billion).

According to Pan, it will include international passenger routes and most international cargo routes in the future, while the existing airport, about 16 km from downtown Chengdu, will be limited to domestic flights and some international cargo routes.

The plan to build a second airport for Chengdu was no surprise. The current Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is the fourth-busiest in China, behind Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

It handled 42 million passengers last year, up 12 percent year-on-year. But industry insiders estimated an annual 62 million passengers would be using the airport by 2020, far exceeding its designed capacity of 50 million.

The expanded capacity with the new airport is also expected to further boost the city's appeal to investors. The city hosts 271 Fortune 500 companies, as well as the consulates of 15 countries, the largest number of consulates in western China.

The existing airport's current 87 international routes made it possible for iPads manufactured in Chengdu, two-thirds of world supply, to be transported to different parts of the globe in a timely fashion.

Hou Yongping, vice-president of the Sichuan Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, said that after the new airport opens, cargo flights from Chengdu to Europe, Africa and the Middle East will be "two to three hours" less than those taking off from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Also, as Chengdu has a strong influence on regions in Southwest and Northwest China, "the new airport will facilitate easy access to these regions for the European market", he said.

In 2015, Chengdu was the first subdivision in western China to see annual GDP surpass 1 trillion yuan. In 2015, more than 2.3 million foreign visitors went to Chengdu, up 16 percent over the previous year.

New Chengdu airport on course for 2020

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