(BEIJING) — Beijing’s new massive international airport nicknamed “The Starfish” is set to officially open its doors on Sept. 30. But the first commercial test flights were already scheduled for Friday.
Officially called Beijing Daxing International Airport with the airport code PKX, the airport has been five years in the making. It’s opening just in time for Oct. 1, the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule.
The new airport is expected to relieve some of operational pressures at the existing Beijing Capital International Airport and could help Beijing become the largest aviation hub in the world. China is expected to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest air travel market by 2022.
Crew members participate in a drill at Beijing Daxing International Airport on Aug. 30, 2019, in Beijing, China.
ABC News joined a media tour last winter to visit the airport while it was still under construction. The project, which started in December 2014, was completed at the end of June, costing an estimated $12 billion.
The airport’s unique shape resembling a starfish also sits on the world’s largest airport site. It will open with four runways handling 300 takeoffs and landings an hour with plans to expand to seven runways.
The starfish shape, consisting of five concourses attached to the main hall, is aimed at reducing the walking distance between security and the gates. The airport construction team promised no more than 8 minutes of walking to get to your gate.
Despite its distance from the center of Beijing, the airport will be connected by an express train and China’s high-speed railway system in time for the 2022 Winter Games.
So far only four Chinese airlines have been given the go-ahead by Chinese civil aviation authorities to operate flights out of the new airport.
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