Editor writes: This interesting question with its corresponding answer will settle the honour of which is the largest airport in the world currently.
There are three mega airports recently opened – Singapore’s Changi International Airport Terminal 3, Britain’s Heathrow Airport and China’s Beijing Capital International Airport. Which is the biggest of them all?
The answer: Beijing Capital International Airport.
To understand the scale of this airport, the following information was taken from the article “Beijing opens world’s largest airport terminal”, The Press Trust of India Limited, dated 29 February 2008, extracted from the Factiva database:
China today unveiled the highly futuristic and world’s largest new airport terminal in the capital in preparation for a deluge of passengers for the Olympics and for meeting the country’s booming air traffic demand.
The roof of the swanky new terminal looks like a dragon from the air with its wing spread running 3.25 km. The structure has 175 escalators, 173 lifts, 437 travelators, 64 restaurants, 300 check-in counters and an ultra modern baggage handling system on 50 km of conveyor belts.
Passengers on board a flight from east China’s Shandong province alighted in the morning, marking the opening of the Terminal Three of Beijing Capital International Airport that can handle 76 million passengers a year or 208,000 passengers a day.
Nearly 40,000 workers built the new terminal working on eight-hour shifts round the clock to complete the colossal project, a great showpiece of China’s urge to show its futuristic face to the world.
“To get an idea of the scale, imagine Heathrow (London) terminals 1,2,3,4 and 5 together under one roof and then add an extra 17 per cent of floor space.
It is so big that under a certain amount of light you can’t see one end of building from the other,” British architect Norman Foster, who designed the terminal, said.
“It has taken 50 years for Heathrow to grow to its present scale. In Beijing, the process should be completed in less than five. Here is a society changing by the power of 10,” Foster told the state-run China Daily.
(The world’s biggest Airbus 380 can be handled by the airport which has an automated Montreal-based Bombardier Inc built train system to navigate the passengers to the international departure area.
With a floor space of 986,000 square metres, more than the double the total area of the first two terminals, the new terminal building is the largest of its kind in the world, Construction project manager Fan Jun was quoted as saying by official Xinhua news agency.
Construction on the new terminal began in 2004 with nine villages moved and 10,000 people relocated. It will enable the capital airport to handle 76 million passengers a year, against 53 million passengers in 2007.
Beijing is expected to receive more than five million people during the 2008 Olympic Games to be held in August. Three highway roads are also under construction to connect the new terminal to the existing traffic system, and are planned to be opened before the Olympics.
Answer by Roy Won, Librarian, Adult and Young People’s Services.