Beijing’s new airport to be efficient, high-tech operation
Construction on the world’s largest airport going smoothly, to begin flights by September 30
Published: Sep 05, 2019 08:03 PM

The interior of the Daxing International Airport on Wednesday Photo: Tu Lei/GT


Passengers can utilize facial-recognition to check in for flights in the new airport. Photo: Tu Lei/GT

Beijing Daxing International Airport, the vast new airport located in the southern part of the capital, is expected to be put into operation by September 30. It is anticipated that it will handle 45 million passengers annually by 2021, and 72 million by 2025.

On Wednesday, the Global Times visited the airport and found that the construction of the main building has been finished, and the preparations from different sectors including airlines, the airport and the airport control center are going smoothly.

Departing from Caoqiao subway station in southern Beijing, it took only 20 minutes to reach the airport terminus via the Daxing Airport Express.

Wang Hui, an official from the Beijing Daxing International Airport Management Center (BDIAMC), said that it only takes eight minutes at most to walk from the terminus to the boarding gates.

Tech support

The cutting-edge technology adopted by the airport is clear to see. Facial-recognition technology has been employed widely; Passengers will experience it when exiting the Daxing Airport Express, when using the self-service check-in equipment, and when printing their boarding passes. 

The airport has deployed an efficient and intelligent security inspection channel that can handle 260 people per hour. That is 40 percent more efficient than a traditional inspection channel. The difference ensures that the time needed to pass security inspection will be less than five minutes, Wang from the BDIAMC told the Global Times.

He added that for the check-in phase, the airport has more than 400 self-service check-in machines and the self-service coverage rate will reach 80 percent. This can limit passengers' waiting time to about 10 minutes. 

The security department also said that with the intelligent passenger-security inspection system, passengers can use facial recognition technology instead of showing a printed ticket. 

The number of passengers that can be checked during early peak hours is over 60 percent higher per hour than traditional security inspection channels, according to Li Xuazhi, an official from a security company under Capital Airport Holding Company.

The Daxing airport's security inspection system can intelligently identify passengers, and it can accurately receive a passenger's information within three seconds when needed, he said. 

At the China Eastern Airlines automatic check-in counter, passengers can utilize facial-recognition to check in for their flights. If a passenger chooses to check in via facial-recognition, their personal departure information, including flight and gate number, will appear on a display screen in front of them. 

China Eastern said in a note sent to the Global Times that it has applied new technologies at the airport, such as facial-recognition check-in and electronic luggage tags, which could help passengers check the location of their luggage with their mobile phones. 

Passengers who are transferring through the airport will use an efficient core-transfer hall, and officials say that all customs procedures can be completed within 30 minutes.

Airlines in preparation 

The launch of Daxing airport will increase the number of flights operating in Beijing. To alleviate the rising pressure, the Civil Aviation Administration of China has launched its largest control center yet to coordinate flights at the new airport, Beijing Capital International Airport and the airport in Tianjin. By 2021, it is estimated that there could be an average daily flow of 2,900 flights, making the Daxing airport the busiest in China.

Qian Yuanyuan, an official from the BDIAMC, said on Wednesday that three airlines - Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines - will operate the first three flights into the new airport. The flights will depart from Chengdu, Shanghai and Guangzhou. 

Hu Haiqing, an official from the Beijing branch of China Southern Airlines, said on Wednesday that its first flight departing from Beijing Daxing will fly to Guangzhou using the A380 jumbo jet.

He said on October 27 that China Southern will conduct its first batch of transitions for the new airport, and large-scale transitions will be carried out in March next year. The carrier will by then operate more than 40 percent of the airport's flight slots. By 2025, China Southern is expected to operate 200 aircraft at the airport, with an average daily takeoff and landing of 900 flights.

China Eastern said in a file sent to the Global Times that its overall investment in the new airport will exceed 120 billion yuan ($16.82 billion), and that 200 large- and medium-sized passenger aircraft will be put into operation at the airport in the coming years, connecting regions such as the Americas, Europe and Oceania. The carrier aims to transform Beijing into another vital, international hub after Shanghai.

At present, China Eastern Airlines and SkyTeam-member companies operate more than 400 daily, round-trip flights in Beijing. After relocating to the new airport, this number is expected to exceed 650 by 2025. It is estimated that China Eastern and SkyTeam-member airlines will have an annual passenger throughput of 30 to 35 million, which will put the airport on track to achieving its total throughput target of 72 million by 2025.