BEIJING, October 29 -- The third runway at Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) became operational on Monday, easing the traffic pressure at the country's busiest airport.
"The airport handles 1,100 arrival and departure flights every day. That will probably rise to 1,500 to 1,600 and peak at 1,900 during the Olympics next year, so the third runway is much needed, " said a BCIA spokesperson.
This new runway, which is equipped with an advanced landing guidance system and is 3,800 meters in length and 60 meters in width, passed the appraisal by the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) on October 20 and went into use as scheduled.
"The new runway is able to accommodate the largest airliner in the world, the Airbus A380," said airport general manager Zhang Zhizhong.
It is part of an expansion project that includes a new terminal building, 100 new aprons, a cargo zone and auxiliary facilities.
The project will enable the airport to accommodate 60 million passengers and handle 1.8 million tons of cargo each year. The new terminal building is expected to come into use in February 2008.
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.
"The preliminary site is to the south of the city and near the Yongding River," said a CAAC official.
"Beijing has reserved Lixian Town in Daxing District as a candidate site," said Shen Baochang, Communist Party secretary of the district.
In the past, there had been speculation that the new airport might be built in Langfang, in neighboring Hebei Province, or in Tianjin Municipality or at the Nanyuan Airport in Daxing District.
"Lixian Town, in the jurisdiction of the capital, is in the plain area of the Yongding River, with easy access to expressways leading to downtown Beijing. It is ideal for a large international airport," added Shen.
"Nanyuan Airport is currently used by both civilian and military aircraft. Its infrastructure is old. It is near the fifth southern ring road and is too close to the downtown area," Shen said.
Location surveys for the new airport site were conducted in 2002 and 2003, but the scheme was suspended when it was decided to expand the BCIA first.
"When the location plan was approved by the central government, the CAAC will conduct a feasibility research," said the official from the CAAC.
Experts believe a second airport will greatly boost the economic development of the whole Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area.