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March 29, 2015

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Pudong Airport’s ambitions take off with fourth runway

A China Eastern Airlines Airbus A320 yesterday became the first aircraft to land at Pudong International Airport’s new runway No. 4.

Flight MU2351 from Lanzhou, capital of northwest China’s Gansu Province, touched down at 10:05am, marking the start of a new phase in the development of one of the world’s busiest transport hubs.

Pudong is the only airport in China with four runways and ranks among the world’s top 20 in terms of traffic. Last year, it handled about 50 million passengers and 3.2 million tons of cargo, said Guo Qiang, director of its safety operations center.

Those figures are expected to grow to 80 million passengers and 3.4 million tons of cargo by 2020, putting Pudong among the world’s top 10 busiest, he said.

“Today marks a real milestone for the airport in terms of its handling capabilities,” he said.

As well as the airport’s extra capacity, the growth will be driven by an operational switch that means runways 1 and 4 are now used exclusively for landing, while 2 and 3 handle only takeoffs, said Chen Wei, deputy director of air traffic control at the East China Civil Aviation Administration of China.

The change is expected to boost the number of arrivals and departures to more than 80 an hour, from 74 at present, and raise the daily total to about 1,400, he said.

“The new runway also will significantly reduce the number of delays,” Chen said.

At 3,800 meters long and 60 meters wide, runway 4 is classified “4F” — the highest possible — meaning it can accommodate the world’s largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380.

Runways 2 and 3 are also classed 4F, which means it is now possible for two “superjumbos” to land at Pudong simultaneously, Chen said.

The logistical change will also benefit passengers as the new runway is much closer to the terminal building, he said.

As for the airport’s future growth, the groundwork for a fifth runway has begun — though a completion date has yet to be set — while a satellite terminal is under construction and scheduled to open in 2018, Guo said.

With 105 gates, it is set to become the world’s largest satellite terminal, Li Derun, president of the Shanghai Airport Authority, said earlier.


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