In late September 2019, a few months before the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic exploded in China, Beijing welcomed the opening of Daxing International Airport (PKX). The new airport features a 700,000 sqm starfish-shaped terminal that is the world’s largest airport airport terminal. Today, American Airlines reported that its Beijing flights will begin using Daxing on when it plans to resume China flights on March 27, 2021.
American Airlines move to Daxing from Beijing Capital Airport (PEK) facilitates easy connections on codeshare flights beyond Beijing on strategic partner China Southern Airlines. Initially, American will serve Daxing from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) with 787-8 aircraft.
Delta Air Lines is also transferring its Beijing operations to Daxing from Beijing Capital. That transfer date has not been set. Delta will serve Daxing using A350-900 aircraft form Detroit and A330-900neo aircraft from Seattle.
United Airlines has not announced plans to move to Daxing. It may remain at Capital Airport to connect with Air China, which will continue to have a substantial presence there as well as operating flights from Daxing.
Reports of Daxing’s cost range from 12 to 17 billion dollars. Here is a video showcasing the new airport.
Daxing’s Benefits And Potential Problems
Beijing’s new airport should be a joy for passengers. New airports are always fun to explore as are the new lounges they contain. The starfish shape places all gates with an eight-minute walk of the central hub. Shopping and dining areas occupy 52,000 square meters and offer 123 brands and 73 Chinese and Western dining choices. An in-terminal Aerotel hotel gives travelers the option of overnight or hourly room rates.
Having one terminal is a big advantage. Transferring between international flights in different terminals at Beijing Capital Airport was a painful process requiring up to two hours.
Located between Beijing and Langfang, Hebei Province, Daxing is about 29 miles from Tiananmen Square in Beijing’s center. The Airport Express Train to Caoqiao Station where passengers can connect to the metro system. Beijing-Xiong’an Intercity Railway Line runs from Daxing to Beijing West Railway Station with metro connections to the rest of the city. Shuttle bus and taxi service are also available for public transportation. With Beijing traffic, I think the Airport Express train is the best option.
Having two international airports serving one city is not the best idea in my opinion. There is always the possibility of getting the airports confused. The airport codes of Daxing (PKX) and Capital (PEK) airports are very similar. There will probably be people who go to the wrong airport to catch a flight. There is also room for confusion when booking connecting flights.
Daxing is adjacent to a Chinese military airport. Chinese military flights may get air traffic control preference over commercial flights. The vast majority of the airspace in China is reserved for military use, which leads to fairly common air traffic delays. Things aren’t going to get any better unless China opens up more air space for commercial use. China has the world’s fastest growing civil aviation sector and will soon have the world’s largest aviation market.
I’m looking forward to experiencing this new airport. Airfares from the U.S. to China are relatively cheap. I’ve often found it cheaper to fly to Beijing or Shanghai from the U.S. on one ticket and then on to another destination in Asia on a separate ticket.
An interesting side note to opening Daxing airport is that by splitting passenger and flight departures between two airports, China is conceding the title of the busiest airport in the world to Atlanta’s Jackson-Hartsfield International Airport for a long time to come.