Beijing’s Hadid-designed $63bn airport opens

The existing Capital International Airport in Beijing’s northeas has capacity constraints that often cause flight delays. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 September 2019

Beijing’s Hadid-designed $63bn airport opens

  • New hub has four runaways, is expected to handle up to 72 million people a year by 2025

BEIJING: Beijing’s new multi-billion dollar airport, Daxing International, was formally declared open by President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, days ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

The 450 billion yuan ($63 billion) project, completed in less than five years, will give a boost to infrastructure growth, flagging amid the biggest economic slowdown in decades, as China and the US remain locked in a trade war.

The airport was hailed as “a new powerful source of national development” at a ceremony overseen by Xi in which top government officials, including He Lifeng, the head of state planning and vice premier, Han Zheng, participated.

The phoenix-shaped airport, abbreviated as PKX, is located in Beijing’s south and will help ease pressure on the existing Capital International Airport in the city’s northeast, where capacity constraints often cause flight delays.

Designed by the firm of Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid, who died in 2016, the new airport boasts four runaways and is expected to handle up to 72 million passengers a year by 2025, eventually reaching 100 million.

China aims to build Daxing, which is expected to become one of the world’s busiest airports, into a global aviation hub, as the country is forecast to overtake the US as the world’s largest aviation market by 2022.

Rising out of farmland, Daxing airport is about 46 kilometers away from Tiananmen Square, almost twice the distance from Capital airport to central Beijing.

It will also accommodate passengers from the neighboring areas of Hebei and Tianjin, linked by a sprawling network of high-speed and inter-city trains, metros and public buses.

An express train from the airport will take about 20 minutes to reach the south of Beijing.

China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines are the main airlines at Daxing, while about 50 foreign airlines, including British Airways and Finnair , plan to move all or part of their operations in the next few quarters.

Flag carrier Air China won 10 percent of the capacity at Daxing.

Against an initial plan for China Southern and China Eastern to move all operations to the new airport, with each getting 40 percent of its capacity, China Eastern has retained its highly profitable Beijing-Shanghai route out of the old airport.

The relocation of all airlines is set to be completed by winter 2021.


Lebanon plunged into ‘deliberate depression’: World Bank

Updated 01 December 2020

Lebanon plunged into ‘deliberate depression’: World Bank

  • The fall 2020 edition of the Lebanon Economic Monitor predicted the economy will have contracted by 19.2 percent this year
  • Lebanon’s economy started collapsing last year as a result of years of corrupt practices and mismanagement

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s economy is sinking into a “deliberate depression,” the World Bank said Tuesday in a damning report stressing the authorities’ failure to tackle the crisis.
The fall 2020 edition of the Lebanon Economic Monitor predicted the economy will have contracted by 19.2 percent this year and projected a debt-to-GDP ratio of 194 percent next year.
“A year into Lebanon’s severe economic crisis, deliberate lack of effective policy action by authorities has subjected the economy to an arduous and prolonged depression,” a World Bank statement said.
Lebanon’s economy started collapsing last year as a result of years of corrupt practices and mismanagement.
The crisis was made worse by a nationwide wave of anti-government protests that paralyzed the country late last year and the Covid-19 pandemic this year.
The August 4 Beirut port blast, one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in history, brought the country to its knees and further fueled public distrust.
“Lebanon is suffering from a dangerous depletion of resources, including human capital, with brain drain becoming an increasingly desperate option,” the World Bank warned.
In 2020, Lebanon defaulted on its debt, banks imposed capital controls and inflation has reached triple-digit rates, dragging the country into its worst ever economic crisis.
Instead of taking emergency measures to rescue the economy, Lebanon’s political elite has continued to dither and bicker.
The previous government headed by Hassan Diab failed to adopt ambitious policies to tackle the crisis. It resigned under pressure over the blast nearly four months ago and a new cabinet has yet to be formed.
“Lack of political consensus on national priorities severely impedes Lebanon’s ability to implement long-term and visionary development policies,” said Saroj Kumar Jha, World Bank regional director.
He called for the quick formation of a new government capable of implementing short-term emergency measures and addressing long-term structural challenges.
“This is imperative to restore the confidence of the people of Lebanon,” he said.
An annual index compiled by Gallup that tracks people’s experience of stress and sadness said “no other country in the world saw negative experiences skyrocket across the board as much as Lebanon.”
The Negative Experience Index’s data was collected before the Beirut port blast, Lebanon’s worst ever peace time disaster.