Daxing International Airport – the Biggest Airport in the World

Beijing Capital Airport was opened in 1958 and by now it is the world’s second-busiest behind Atlanta in the US, thus the second Beijing airport has been built in Daxing to take the pressure off the overcrowded existing international terminal in southern Beijing.

The new Daxing International Airport is situated 46km south of the city centre in the historically backward area. The first-class infrastructure will certainly help reduce the economic imbalances between urban Beijing and its outskirts and the surrounding Hebei Province.

Further, the public transport infrastructure that comes with the airport will provide essential links between strategic destinations including Beijing and the possible new Chinese capital city Xiong’an.

The World’s Biggest Airport

The $17 billion project was developed by Beijing New Airport Construction Headquarters, with the masterplan mainly prepared by Netherlands Airport Consultants and Zaha Hadid as the chief architect before her death in 2016, in collaboration with Beijing Tsinghua TonHeng Urban Planning and Design Institute, while the facade was designed by XinShan Curtainwall and Beijing Institute of Architectural Design.

China IPPR International Engineering was responsible for the security system and baggage system designs.

The other major contractors involved in the project include China Electronics Engineering Design Institute, Civil Aviation Electronic Technology, The Third Rail Survey and Design Institute Group Corporation, Beijing City Construction Design Research General Institute, Beijing General Municipal Engineering Design & Research Institute, Central Academy of Fine Arts, Dtree, Lea-Elliot, Lighting Design Studio, East Sign Design & Engineering, BuroHappold and Arup.

Xsight Systems, T-Systems, Schindler, Thales, Beijing EasySky Technology and Oasys are among the chief suppliers, with 98% products made in China.

The Airport with 98 Percent Made in China

Over the past five years, a total of 100,000 people worked on the project. At one time, there were 50,000 workers on the site simultaneously.

The building features a central atrium supported by eight C-shaped columns, each of which has a 106m wide skylight at the top.

The massive skylights are framed with 60,000 steel bars which are linked by 10,000 steel balls. All bars and balls are issued a unique ID as each of them having a unique position in the structure while the allowance error is just a few millimetres.

A skylight during the construction.

The project employed 65 new technologies, obtained 103 patents and broke over 40 world records. The acceptance criteria have been met by 100 per cent.

The Airport Inspired by Traditional Chinese Architecture

The overall design concept of the airport is based on the traditional Chinese architecture principle, which uses a central courtyard to interconnect various spaces.

The 700,000sqm airport, equivalent to 97 football, is the world’s biggest free-standing terminal with five connected concourses serving four runways. In the aerial view, it looks like a giant phoenix reborn from the ash about to take off at any minute.

A plan to expand to 8 runways is already in the process. It is set to welcome 72 million travellers a year by 2025 and  100 million passengers annually by 2040 when the airport reaches its full capacity.

The Airport as an Integrated Traffic Hub

Daxing Airport is the first airport in the world to have double-deck departure and arrival platforms, providing passengers with smoother departure and arrival experience.

The airport is also well connected with the transport network through metro train and road. There are 16 rails underground which can be accessed directly from the terminal, so it will not be an issue for passengers to travel between Beijing CBD and Daxing International Airport.

It only takes 20 minutes to travel from Beijing’s West Railway Station to Daxing Airport through Beijing-Xiong’an high-speed railway. There is also a cheaper option for the journey by metro train connection from Beijing’s Caoqiao station to the new airport.

An Autonomous Car-Maneuvering System

For those who drive a car to the airport, the automatic parking system will move the vehicle from a traffic lane into a parking spot.

The driverless parking area.

A Terminal on China’s Feng Shui Central Axis

The spot where Mr Hu Ge stands in the Daxing International Airport is right on the central axis of Beijing that links the Forbidden City and Olympics Bird’s Next. 46 kilometres south is the Tiananmen Square, the centre of Chinese capital city, and from Feng Shui point of view, the heart of China.

The Airport with an Ecological Sustainable System

Ecological sustainability features prominently in Daxing International Airport. The photo voltaic modules on the terminal roof enable the airport to generate 10MW of solar power.

The 100m structural spans in the terminal create large public spaces and allow the flexible internal reconfiguration.

The vaulted roofs on each of the six arms supporting the terminal structure not only help generate the solar power but enable natural light to enter the building, which further reduces the carbon footprint of the airport.

The central heating that includes a waste heat recovery system is capable of supplying energy to approximately 232,257m2.

The union of function and aesthetics and the integration of natural elements and indoor space.

A multi-layered indoor courtyard is situated at the centre of the terminal which can accommodate 79 gates with aerobridges simultaneously, allowing the rapid flow of traffic.

The airport’s rainwater collection and water management system can store, permeate and purify up to 2.8 million cubic metres of rainwater. During heavy storms, the system will direct the water towards wetlands and rivers, therefore preventing flooding and the region’s heat island effect.

Everything in Daxing International Airport, from the transfer desk to baggage claim and bathrooms, was clearly signed in English. Many of the signs further indicate walking distances, helping the passengers better budget their time.

An Intelligent Terminal

A knowledgeable and forever patient robot receptionist is already ready to answer passengers’ inquiries.

The check-in was fully digitalised. Coupled with the facial recognition system throughout the airport from check-in to customs security, the time to reach the gate will take less than 30 minutes.

The airport looks gigantic, yet the smart design makes it possible for the time spent on walking from the central courtyard to any gate within 8 minutes.

A Secret Garden

A secret Chinese garden in the terminal.

The Chinese garden includes a pond, a pavilion, a zigzag bridge, verandas and public lounges, providing a taste of local culture for the international travellers and a place for a short break in a natural environment during the trip.

An aerial view of the Chinese garden.

Underground Aircraft Refueling Facilities

Aircraft refuelling facilities are stored underground and can be easily lifted up with one hand.

A refuelling facility has been lifted up to the ground.

A Bird Control Team

An electronic eagle in the airport to scare the birds away with its red glowing eyes and intimidating eagle call.

There are vast wetlands around Daxing Airport where various species of birds nest. Bird control not only protects the airport but the natural ecosystem.

But the laser bird control devices are the main tools used in Daxing Airport.

A young bird controlling team at Daxing International Airport.

Mr Hu Ge, one of China’s best and most popular actors who stars in China’s most celebrated TV series Nirvana In Fire and in Cannen’s Best Film nominee The Wild Goose Lake, takes a tour in the brand new Daxing International Airport. 

A China’s Southern Airlines aircraft became the first commercial flight took off from Daxing Airport on September 25, while British Airways becomes the first international airline that launched flights there in early November 2019. 

It’s believed China’s air travel market will overtake that of the US by 2022.

At present, there are over 200 airports in the cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Chongqing, Xi’an, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Guilin, Kunming, Huangshan, Xiamen, Urumqi and Harbin, just to mention but a few popular destinations.

It is expected that by 2040, Daxing Airport will become the world’s busiest terminal when it receives 100 million passengers and 20 million tonnes of cargo annually.

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