$16bn airport to unclog China's runways
Beijing plans to build a new 86 billion yuan (NZ$16.2 billion) airport in the south of the Chinese capital as congestion continues to clog runways and gates at Beijing Capital International Airport.
The new facility, which will border on Hebei province, is planned to handle 72 million passengers and 2 million tons of cargo annually, according to a document posted on the website of Ministry of Environmental Protection late last week.
Beijing's Capital International Airport, which was built in 1958, is already operating beyond its designed capacity of 80 million passengers per year. In 2013, the airport handled 83 million visitors.
China's airports in total handled more than 754 million passengers last year, up 11 per cent from 2012 and 86 per cent from five years ago, official data shows.
Congestion and delays are only set to worsen as manufacturers estimate one new plane will take to China's skies every other day for the next two decades.
By 2015, Beijing alone is expected to see 113 million air passengers each year, rising to 142 million by 2020, according to the document.
A shortage of slots at major airports in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, along with China's restricted air corridors, cause constant delays at Chinese airports which sometimes lead to riots.
In February, angry passengers protesting a long delay smashed computers and chairs at Xinzheng International airport. One passenger even managed to get into the airport's control room and beat up airport staff, according to local media report.