Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) estimates that passenger numbers grew 11.5 percent in 2010 from the previous year to 73 million. The airport predicts growth will average 10.5 percent from 2011 through to 2015.
Domestic traffic is expected to account for 79-80 percent of passengers handled. Cargo volumes are forecast to leap by as much as 50.7 percent over the five-year period from 2.02 million tonnes in 2011 to 3.05 million tonnes in 2015.
BCIA chairman Dong Zhiyi says the surge in passenger traffic is due to the rebound in global demand and the rapid growth of China’s domestic air-travel market. Over the past decade, traffic at BCIA grew 13 percent per annum.
“BCIA will continue to work closely with airlines to leverage on strategic alliances and marketing to enhance hub development, expand route networks and work towards the facility achieving its goal of becoming a large international aviation hub by 2015,” Dong says.
Operating with three terminals and three runways, BCIA will reach its annual capacity limit of 82 million passengers in about the first quarter of 2012. “The airport will then have to deal with congestion until the second Beijing international airport opens in late 2015 or early 2016,” Dong adds.
BCIA is currently facing the dual challenge of improving the ‘China Service’ brand while continually enhancing competitiveness.
While the airport operator’s management expertise has improved considerably over the past two years, Dong acknowledges that there is room for improvement. “We have five years to improve and aim to be the best airport in the Asia-Pacific in terms of management, service and product offering by 2015,” Dong says.
Construction of Beijing’s second airport is expected to start within the next two months in the city’s Daxing district. The new facility will have handling capacity for 100 million passengers a year, with an initial two terminals and three runways.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) plans for the new airport to handle international flights into and out of the Chinese capital. BCIA will then be dedicated to domestic services and possibly some regional flights to Korea and Japan.
Dong says Beijing needs a second airport since BCIA will struggle to cope with anticipated future passenger traffic growth, despite having three operational runways and three terminals.
The airport’s massive Terminal 3, with a floor space of 1.3 million square metres, is the biggest in the world – bigger than London Heathrow’s Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 4 combined.
Eighty passenger airlines operate at BCIA, offering 1,136 flights a week to 95 international destinations in 54 countries. Domestic airlines operate 4,165 flights a week from BCIA to 113 destinations.
Wataniya Airways plans expansion
Kuwait-based Wataniya Airways plans to expand its current fleet of seven, single-aisle Airbus A320 aircraft to 12, including the acquisition of widebody aircraft over the next few years.
The expansion is part of the airline’s goal to launch services to new destinations in India and other points in Asia that are currently being planned.
Wataniya’s Chief Executive Officer George Cooper says that while the airline’s main focus is on Kuwait and the Middle East, it is keen to operate to India and certain other markets in Asia.
Wataniya now operates from Kuwait International Airport’s exclusive Sheikh Saad Terminal, a private facility. The carrier has a network of 11 destinations covering Alexandria, Amman, Bahrain, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Dubai, Istanbul, Jeddah, Rome and Vienna.
The carrier launched thrice-weekly flights on the Beirut-Vienna route on 31 October and is looking at making this a daily service in future. Wataniya has a code-sharing agreement with Austrian Airlines on 19 European routes from Vienna.
Wataniya Airways took advantage of the Kuwait government’s aviation liberalisation policy to set up the company in 2006. The carrier received its air operating certificate in July 2008 and commenced operations in January 2009.
The airline is the only one in Kuwait to operate flights from a private terminal and is listed on the Kuwait Stock Exchange. The sole premium airline operating in Kuwait, Wataniya’s A320 aircraft are configured in a two-class layout, offering business-first and premium-economy services.