[photopress:air_tianjin.jpg,full,alignright]Tianjin is seriously working at becoming one of the major commercial centers of China. For that it need a big airport. So it will raise the annual capacity of its new airport to 40 million passengers by 2020, four times the amount it will be able to handle when it opens on the due date in March.
Qi Ronglin, deputy director of Tianjin’s Municipal Commission of Communications said the airfield will likely reach this figure ahead of schedule.
Mayor Dai Xianglong, a former central bank governor, has expanded Tianjin’s port, won investment from overseas companies including Airbus SAS and plans to make the city the first in China where residents can buy Hong Kong-listed stock. The new airfield would compare with Beijing Capital, Asia’s second- busiest, which handled 48.7 million passengers last year. The mayor, plainly, is not with ambition for his city.
Qi Ronglin said, ‘Tianjin has the potential to become a traffic hub in northern China. The combined advantages in aviation and shipping traffic will help boost the city’s economy.’
The RMB3 billion(US$402 million) first phase of Tianjin’s airport will have a capacity of 10 million passengers a year. A second phase due to be completed by 2010, will add a second runway and double the capacity to 20 million.
Airbus will also use the airport to test A320s made in the city. The planemaker plans to begin deliveries from the assembly plant, its first outside Europe, in 2009.
Tianjin’s existing airport will be turned into an all-cargo facility.
The city’s seaport, northern China’s busiest, handles about half of China’s auto imports. It plans to raise its annual container volume about 70% to 12 million by 2010 from an expected 7 million this year.
A total of RMB36.7 billion will be spent expanding Tianjin port in the five years ending 2010, according to the port operator’s Web site.