Beijing will operate two hub airports from 30 September 2019, as Chinese authorities pursue a regional economic development strategy
In December 2017, the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) co-published a strategy paper called ‘Opinions on Implementing Coordinated Development of Civil Aviation in Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region’. Today, this region includes nine major airports. Two serve the capital (Beijing Capital International and Beijing Nanyuan), while Tianjin Binhai International is the main airport for Tianjin. Hebei Province has six: Shijiazhuang Zhengding International, Zhangjiakou Ningyuan, Tangshan Sannühe, Handan, Qinhuangdao Beidaihe, and Chengde Puning (a new airport that began operations in 2017).
According to Wang Changyi, head of the development and planning department in the CAAC, Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) and under-construction Beijing New International Airport (BNIA – also known as Daxing Airport) are positioned as international hub airports. BNIA will serve as a key multimodal hub for the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei (Jingjinji) region.
The NDRC/CAAC plan foresees that Beijing will be the political, cultural, technological innovation, and international exchange centre for China. Tianjin (to the east of the capital) will become a centre for manufacturing, research, and development; a core area for international shipping; and a demonstration site for financial innovation and reform. Hebei Province (which surrounds Beijing and Tianjin) will become a base for logistics and a pilot area for industrial transformation, as well as urban-rural development.
BCIA processed 94.4 million passengers in 2016, accounting for 75.3% of all air travellers in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei regional airport cluster (see table below). Capacity saturation is an issue at BCIA and the two other major airports in the region, Tianjin Binhai and Shijiazhuang Zhengding. BCIA recorded the slowest average annual growth rate of 4.1% between 2014 and 2016, whereas Tianjin and Shijiazhuang posted 18.9% and 12.3%, respectively.