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Chengdu's new international airport to boost China's economic development

By Tom Fowdy
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, July 5, 2021
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An aerial photo of the Chengdu Tianfu International Airport in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan province, on May 31, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province, is the most famous city in China's west, in many ways capturing many aspects of the country's identity and culture. It is world famous for its spicy cuisine and use of the Chilli pepper, but also for being the home of Giant Panda, arguably the country's most famous national animal. 

Last week, the city took a new center stage in consolidating itself as a hub of international travel and transit with the opening of its new Tianfu International Airport. 

Built at a cost of 70 billion yuan ($10.8 billion), with three runways, two terminals and covering over 710,000 square meters, phase one of the airport is capable of handling 60 million passengers a year.

However, it will expand eventually to 1.4 million square meters, able to handle 120 million passengers annually. It now joins Beijing and Shanghai to become the third city in China to have two airports.

Similarly, before the pandemic, another "mega airport" had opened in China's capital. The Beijing Daxing International Airport, construction of which commenced in late 2019, consists of the world's largest single-building airport terminal, nicknamed "starfish."

Both of these new facilities are arguably showpieces of China's grand scale infrastructure success. What do they bring to China, and for that matter, other countries? These hubs are not merely for show or decoration, but habor a grand ambition to better connect our world, drive forwards China's development and serve this populous country accordingly.

An airport is a transport hub where planes come and go, transporting large quantities of people and cargos to and fro. They come of course in all shapes and sizes, and are usually weighted on the demand of the population and areas that use it, and, by extension, the amount of traffic that passes through it. 

Some can be as simple as a small building and a single strip, as seen in the Shetland Islands' Sumburgh Airport in Scotland, which just serves a remote region of a tiny population and a very limited economic scope. 

Yet, this is not the case for China, which is not only the world's most populous country, but the world's third largest in geographic scope; in addition, it is a developing country with a rapidly growing economy. 

These changes in China over the past few decades have produced an overwhelming demand for new infrastructure in order to accommodate an increasingly mobile 1.4 billion people. Infrastructure connects the population and makes economic opportunities possible, without which development is not possible. 

Although the pandemic has stifled international travel, China's own domestic aviation market is the world's largest; local travel has boomed thanks to its effective containment of the pandemic. 

This means China is constantly needing new and bigger airports in order to accommodate an ever-swelling flow of passengers. Therefore, new airports, such as Chengdu Tianfu and Beijing Daxing have been massive long-term projects to adapt to these shifts. 

They make air travel accordingly more convenient, less time consuming, more affordable and less stressful. They also provide mega opportunities for jobs and businesses to invest in. 

It also has an international dimension. These airports, in terms of global travel, will act as intercontinental hubs with a capacity to connect various countries as a transit link. China's massive investment in infrastructure all these years will promote its rapid economic growth and build new horizons in people's lives. It's going to be exiting to transit through these glamorous destinations.

Tom Fowdy is a British political and international relations analyst and a graduate of Durham and Oxford universities. He writes on topics pertaining to China, the DPRK, Britain and the U.S. For more information please visit: 


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