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March 19, 2010

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New terminal's observation deck shuts public out

CHEN Meifang, 65, was disappointed to see the "under construction" sign blocking the entrance of the Hongqiao airport's new observation deck, a highlight of the new terminal that is supposed to provide a spectacular view of the runway.

Chen was with other four old friends who came all the way via Metro Line 2 to Terminal 2 of the Hongqiao International Airport, to see planes take off and land at close hand for the first time in their lives.

They saw the planes - but behind a large pane of glass.

"It's really a pity that we can not go a step further," said Chen.

Only two days ago, when the new terminal opened, crowds including dozens of newspaper photographers jammed on the deck to feast their eyes.

The deck, 60 meters long and 8 meters wide one floor above T2's departure floor, was touted as a great vantage point for people to see their friends' or relatives' planes take off.

But the site is now locked, and the reasons aren't clear. Officials said the deck's decor wasn't finished, but some observers speculated the problem was safety; although there is a fence around the deck, people can still throw objects onto the apron if they wanted to.

An airport spokeswoman said yesterday that the platform was closed soon after the first-day operation. She said the interior decoration of the observation deck's lobby would last "a couple of days." But she did not say when the deck would reopen to the public and to what extent.

That the new terminal is not completely finished - there aren't enough guide signs, for instance - had some people asking why it was opened in such a rush.

Chen said there was no signboard to show the exact location of the observation deck.

"I got lost at the terminal," Chen said. She asked at least three volunteers to find the way.

The way to the transfer to Metro Line 2 is not clear with few guiding signs, passengers said.

With the deck closed, many visitors snuck into a canteen next door. It's for airport staff only. It, too, offers a sweeping view of the apron.

"Oh, here they come again," said a worker when he saw Chen and her friends swarm into the canteen.


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