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May 30, 2016

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Home » City specials » Chengdu

New airport elevates city’s profile in trade, tourism

CHENGDU Tianfu International Airport, whose construction started on May 27, will make Chengdu the only city in central and western China that has two international airports, or the third in the Chinese mainland.

The second airport underscores the rising importance of Sichuan Province’s capital as a hub for the economic development of central and southwestern China and its strategic location on the modern-day Silk Road of commerce.

Located within the Tianfu New Area, a country-level development zone, Chengdu Tianfu International Airport is expected to drive up investment with a direct input of 71.86 billion yuan (US$10.96 billion) and a combined investment of 300 billion yuan on related projects. Its significant economic and social benefits will help Chengdu accelerate in the construction of a comprehensive transport hub in China’s western areas and in coordinated growth of the Yangtze River Economic Belt and the Silk Road Belt.

Located at the western gateway to the Yangtze River Economic Belt, the new airport has a size to match its status. It will be almost twice the size of Terminal 2 of the existing Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport. In its first phase, it is designed to handle 40 million passengers each year and 700,000 tons of goods by 2025. Subsequent expansion will doubled the number of runways to six, allowing the airport to handle 90 million passengers annually. A highway, two speedways and two subway lines are under construction to connect Tianfu Airport with downtown Chengdu about 50 kilometers away.

“Tianfu Airport will be China’s biggest airport project during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20),” said Tang Limin, director of the Sichuan Development and Reform Commission. “It will distinguish Chengdu as an ultra-modern aviation hub and help accelerate economic growth in China’s hinterland areas.”

The project is an integral part of China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, which aims to strengthen business and cultural ties with countries along the ancient Silk Road, Tang said.

The new airport is not only a mirror of the acute demand of Chengdu for transport development, but also a sign of its economic importance as the nation seeks to develop central and western areas of the country.

In 2015, the city’s gross domestic product expanded 7.9 percent from a year earlier to 1.08 trillion yuan, faster than the national pace by 1 percentage point, according to the Chengdu Bureau of Statistics.

Last year, about 42 million passengers passed through Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, a 12.1 percent increase from the previous year. Among them, more than 4 million were foreign travelers, up 27.8 percent year on year. The throughput ranked Shuangliu Airport among the top 30 international airports in the world and the fourth in China.

Chengdu is to host the 22nd World Route Development Forum, which will be held in the Chengdu Century City New International Convention and Exhibition Center between September 24 and September 27. It is expected that about 3,500 representatives from more than 350 global aviation companies, 1,200 airport operators and 200 governmental and international organizations will attend the meeting.

As an influential event, the World Route Development Forum is considered a catalyst to the growth of the aviation industry. Many cities apply to be the host of the forum, so it is difficult to become the finalist — only a few first-tier metropolitan cities have succeeded. With thoughtful preparations and continuous efforts, Chengdu managed to do that after emerging from four well-known cities including Paris and Seoul.

“Chengdu’s development in transport stands out from all other second-tier cities,” said Chen Zhongwei, director of Chengdu’s Port and Logistics Office. “We are moving ever closer to first-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.”

Chengdu currently has nearly 90 international air routes connecting the city with more than 70 overseas hubs around the world. Some 40-plus are regular direct flights covering important hub cities in North America, Europe, Middle East, Oceania and Asia. The city has seen a rapid increase in new international routes, including those regular and direct intercontinental ones to San Francisco, London, Frankfurt, Paris, Melbourne, Doha, Moscow and Mauritius opened since 2013.

The upsurge in travel isn’t confined to the air. The number of visitors arriving by train and car is also increasing rapidly. Chengdu is actively expanding road, rail and port connections. According to Tang from the development commission, construction of highway, expressway, high-speed train, aviation parks and other facilities will start one after another in the near future.

Chengdu’s stature and ambitions will be reflected in the appealing, modern design of the new airport.

The 1.26-million-square-meter terminal, a highlight of the airport, is based on the pattern of Sun Birds found on a golden relic of the ancient Shu culture during the excavation of Chengdu’s Jinsha Ruins in 2001. It can be traced back to the Shang Dynasty (c. 16th century-11th century BC) more than 3,000 years ago. The pattern has become a symbol of Chengdu. Shu embroidery featuring the Sun Birds pattern even travelled into space with the Shenzhou VI project.

The new airport is designed by the China Southwest Architectural Design and Research Institute, in partnership with the China Airport Construction Group and ADP Ingenierie, a French firm specializing in airport architecture and engineering. The airport will incorporate all the features and amenities of a world-class facility. It is also a model airport in energy saving and environmental protection. With innovative design envisioning the future growth, it sets up flexible parking space, being able to serve both international routes and domestic routes depending on different demands.


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