[photopress:air_beijing_terminal_2.jpg,full,alignright]Beijing has opened a huge new $3.6 billion airport terminal ahead of the expected influx of millions of visitors to this summer’s Olympics, part of a multi-billion infrastructure boost for the capital.
So far it has had none of the disasters that have so marred the opening of London Heathrow’s Terminal 5.
The impressive Beijing terminal’s nearly 3-km (2-mile) long concourse is divided into three sections and connected by a shuttle train. The new terminal will boost capacity at the airport to 76 million passengers compared with the 52 million who used the airport last year.
[photopress:air_beijing_terminal_1.jpg,full,alignleft]The government is also busy opening new subway lines and roads, as part of a $40 billion project to revamp and modernize Beijing in preparation for the Olympics.
The new airport terminal is supposed to resemble a dragon, complete with triangular windows cut into the ceiling as though they were scales. It was designed by British architect Norman Foster, who also designed Hong Kong’s Chep Lap Kok airport.
A train link, to open before the Olympics, will take passengersdowntown in about 15 minutes on the 28 km line, and the high-tech baggage system will handle 19,800 bags per hour.
It has almost double the number of boarding gates of the old terminals and nearly 300 check-in desks. However, China’s civil aviation regulator continues to berate airlines and airports for their poor treatment of passengers and is desperately trying to get them to raise standards ahead of the flood of visitors who will come for the Olympics.
Beijing airport was ranked only 62nd in 2006 in an Airports Council International survey of passenger satisfaction levels despite being the ninth busiest in the world in terms of passengers handled.
Source: The Gazette