Tianjin, aiming to challenge Shanghai as a commercial centre, will raise the annual capacity of its new airport to 40 million passengers by 2020, a tally ten times the traffic expected in the city this year.
The airfield, due to open in March, will likely reach this figure ahead of schedule, Qi Ronglin, deputy director of Tianjin's Municipal Commission of Communications, said in an interview in the northern port city yesterday. Beijing Capital Airport Group Corp., parent of the operator of the Chinese capital's airfield, is funding most of the project, he added.
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 3 billion yuan ($402 million) first phase of Tianjin's airport will have a capacity of 10 million passengers a year, Qi said. A second phase due to be completed by 2010, will add a second runway and double the capacity to 20 million, he added.
Airbus, the world's largest commercial aircraft-maker, will also use the airport to test A320s made in the city, Qi said. The planemaker plans to begin deliveries from the assembly plant, its first outside Europe, in 2009.
Tianjin's existing airport, which is likely to handle 3.8 million passengers this year, will be turned into an all-cargo facility to support the city's growth as a freight hub, Qi said.
The city's seaport, northern China's busiest, handles about half of China's auto imports. Traffic at the port may grow 20 percent a year until at least 2012, Tianjin Port Co. Chairman Yu Rumin said Sept. 6. ( Bloomberg )