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March 4, 2010

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Hongqiao all clear for take-off

THE second runway at Hongqiao International Airport will be put into use next Thursday, five days ahead of the opening of the airport's new terminal.

The airport will then have two runways and Shanghai will become the first city in China to have two airports and five runways.

The timing of the dual openings is impeccable, coming less than two months before the massive domestic and international visitor influx expected for the six-month World Expo.

Hongqiao was the city's first international airport, opening in 1964.

In 1999 Shanghai opened the larger Pudong International Airport.

The city's airport operator said yesterday the March 16 opening of the new Hongqiao terminal was on schedule.

The construction and extension projects at the airport yesterday passed a two-day inspection conducted by civil aviation authorities.

More than 50 experts and officials joined the inspection that covered both equipment and operation systems.

The new runway passed a construction inspection in late December.

The second runway, 3,300 meters long, is 365 meters west of the original one and will handle the world's largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, plus cargo aircraft.

The airport operator said that 11 airlines, including Air China and China Southern Airlines, would switch their flights to the new terminal.

Detailed landing and take-off procedures will be controlled by the regional civil aviation administration bureau.

The operator said the runway would relieve pressure on the busy airport. About 500 flights land and take off there daily.

Hongqiao International Airport is undergoing a 15.3 billion yuan (US$2.24 billion) expansion, including the new terminal and runway, as part of the Hongqiao Transport Hub.

The older airport failed to meet passenger demands.

It had a designed capacity for 9.6 million passengers a year but handled more than 25 million last year.

With its second terminal and runway, the airport is expected to have 40 million passengers a year by 2015.


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