The airport is located 20 km to the northeast of Beijing city center. Although many consider it to lie in Shunyi District, it is, in fact, an exclave of , Beijing.
The airport is a primary hub of operations for Air China, which flies to around 120 destinations . It is also a hub for Hainan Airlines and China Southern Airlines. The airport expansion is largely funded by a 500-million-euro loan from the European Investment Bank . The loan is the largest ever granted by the EIB in Asia; the agreement was signed during the eighth China-EU Summit held in September 2005.
In 2007, Beijing Capital served 53,736,923 passengers, and became the . It also registered 399,986 aircraft movements,
Beijing Airport was opened on March 2, 1958, and was the first in the People's Republic of China. The airport consisted of one small terminal building, which still stands to this day, apparently for the use of VIPs and charter flights. On January 1, 1980, a newer, larger building -- green in colour -- opened, with docks for 10–12 airplanes. The terminal was larger than the 1950s one, but by the mid 1990s it was too small. The terminal was then closed for renovation after the opening of Terminal 2.
In late 1999, to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, the airport was expanded again. This new terminal opened on November 1, and was named Terminal 2. September 20, 2004, saw the opening of a new Terminal 1 for a few airlines, including China Southern Airlines domestic and international flights from Beijing. Other airlines' domestic and international flights still operate in Terminal 2.
Another expansion, terminal 3 was completed in February 2008, in time for the Beijing Olympics. This colossal expansion includes a third runway and another terminal for Beijing airport, and a rail link to the city center. It is one of the largest airport terminals in the world in terms of land size, and a major landmark in Beijing representing the growing and developing Chinese city.
The third runway of BCIA opened on October 29, 2007 to relieve congestion on the other two runways.
Air China, China Eastern and China Southern have cut capacity on the Beijing-Shanghai routes. This is because of overcrowding and to increase safety. The CAAC will also ban any start-up airlines until 2010 because of overcapacity and major constraints. However, the opening of the 3rd runway has increased the number of movements to approximately 620,000. However, during the Olympics, it will cut its movements to 1350 a day, to prevent airlines being stuck on the tarmac for periods of time.
The airport is expected to handle 64 million passengers in 2008, due to the high demand from the Olympics, potentially making it the top 5 airports in passenger traffic terms. The capacity of the airport will be an estimated 82 million, up from the current 35.5 million before the opening of Terminal 3.
A new airport is also planned, starting construction in 2010, located approximately 40km south of downtown Beijing. Other preferred site is to the south of the city near the Yongding River, which forms a boundary between Beijing and Hebei Province. The Daxing District at south has been another proposed site. The capacity of the new planned super airport is around 70-100 million. Upon completion of the new airport, most domestic routes will be transferred to the new proposed airport. There are also other plans to expand BCIA with a 4th runway joined to the 3rd runway to further increase traffic movements.
Terminal 1, with 60,000 square meters of space, was opened on January 1, 1980 and replaced the small existing terminal which was in operation since the 1950s. The Terminal was closed for renovation from 1999 to September 20, 2004, during which time all airlines operated from Terminal 2. Featuring 16 gates, it was the operational base for China Southern Airlines's domestic routes and a few other airlines such as Xiamen Airlines and Chongqing Airlines, and was originally planned to handle domestic traffic, excluding those to Hong Kong and Macau.
With the opening of Terminal 3, the terminal was closed for light refurbishment, and its airlines were moved to Terminal 2 on May 20, 2008. It reopened on June 27, 2008, and became the operational base for all domestic flights operated by the HNA Group, including those of Hainan Airlines, Grand China Air, Deer Air and Grand China Express Air, while the international flights and the ones between Hongkong, Macau, Taiwan and Beijing of the HNA Group remained in Terminal 2.
Terminal 2 opened on November 1, 1999, a month after the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. This terminal was used to replace Terminal 1 while the later was undergoing renovation, cramping all airlines into this terminal despite it being far bigger than Terminal 1 and can handle twenty airplanes at docks connecting directly to the terminal building. Prior to the opening of Terminal 3, the majority of the flights from PEK operated from this terminal. This terminal now houses China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Skyteam, and other domestic and international flights after Air China, Shanghai Airlines, Star Alliance members, Oneworld members moved operations to the new Terminal 3.
There is a passage linking the two terminals together; this is accessible at the public level . There is limited selection of food and dining options at Terminal 2. There is only one restaurant in the international area of the terminal once passengers are past security, and the prices are several times higher than similar food downtown Beijing. A Japanese set meal is advertised on the official airport website as RMB 88, four-times higher than a similar offering downtown. By comparison, the domestic area of Terminal 2 has a number of dining options, all at more reasonable prices. Kentucky Fried Chicken and Starbucks have opened outlets in the airport in both Terminals 1 and 2. KFC is available at the basement level in Terminal 2, while Starbucks is available on both landside and airsides.
Construction of Terminal 3 started on March 28, 2004 and was opened in two stages. Trial operations commenced on February 29, 2008 when seven airlines, namely British Airways, El Al Israel Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Shandong Airlines and Sichuan Airlines moved into the terminal. 20 other airlines moved into the terminal when it became fully operational on March 26, 2008. Currently, it mainly houses Air China, Oneworld, Star Alliance, and other domestic and international flights.
It was designed by a consortium of NACO , UK Architect Foster and Partners and ARUP. The budget of the expansion is US$3.5 billion. Far grander in size and scale than the existing terminals, it is the largest airport terminal building complex built in a single phase with 986,000 square meters in total floor area. It features a main passenger terminal , two satellite concourses and five floors above ground and two underground, with the letters "A and B" omitted to avoid confusions with the existing Terminals 1 and 2. Terminal 3C is dedicated for domestic flights, Terminal 3E for international flights, and Terminal 3D, called the "Olympics Hall", was used for charter flights during the Beijing Olympics, before its use by international flights.
Terminal 3 - if considered an airport on its own - would be the largest airport in the world in land size and one of the world's largest in capacity and land size . It is larger than London Heathrow Airport's 5 terminals combined with another 17% to spare.
System, Security and Luggage
A 300,000-sq.m transportation centre is located at the front of T3. 7,000 car parking spaces will be available if the two-level underground parking lot is fully employed. The transportation centre will have three lanes for different types of vehicles, airport buses, taxies and private vehicles, which will enable a smooth flow of passengers. People bound for T3 will exit their vehicles here and enter T3 via an aisle within five minutes. The transportation centre will also have a light-rail station on a line that begins at the Dongzhimen stop on the Beijing Subway in Central Beijing. Travel time from Dongzhimen to T3 will be about 18 minutes.
There are electrical outlets on either end of every row of seats in the terminal. There are 243 elevators, escalators or moving walkways; and every restroom is accompanied by a mothers’ room where diapers can be changed. There is also a room for
travelers with disabilities.
One of Terminal 3's highlights is the US$240 million luggage-transfer system. The luggage system is equipped with yellow carts, each of which has a code, matching the bar code on every piece of luggage loaded on it, allowing easy and accurate tracking. More than 200 cameras will be used to monitor activities in the luggage area.
The luggage system can handle 19,200 pieces of luggage per hour. After luggage is checked in at any one of the 292 counters at Terminal 3C, they can be transferred at the speed of ten metres per second. Even for international routes, luggage can travel from T3C to T3E in five minutes. Arriving passengers should be able to begin retrieving their luggage within 4.5 minutes after airplanes are unloaded.
Along with X-ray scanners, additional equipment conducts checks such as for explosives. Passengers will be able to check in their luggage at the airport several hours or even a day before their flight. The airport will store them in its luggage system and then load them on the correct airplane.
A 98.3-meter monitoring tower stands at the southern end of T3, the highest building at the airport. The roof of T3 is red, the Chinese color for good luck. The terminal’s ceilings use white strips for decoration and to indicate directions. Under the white strips, the basic color of the ceiling is orange with light to dark tones indicating where a passenger is inside the building. It is light orange in the center and deepens as it extends to the sides in T3E and is the other way round in T3C.
The roof of T3 has dozens of windows to let in daylight. Light angles can be adjusted to ensure adequate interior lighting. Many traditional Chinese elements will be employed in the terminal’s interior decoration, including a “Menhai,” a big copper vat used to store water for fighting fires in the Forbidden City, and the carvings imitating the famous Nine-Dragon Wall .
An indoor garden is constructed in the T3E waiting area, in the style of imperial gardens such as the Summer Palace. In T3C, a tunnel landscape of an underground garden has been finished with plants on each side so that passengers can appreciate them inside the mini-train.
The T3 food-service area is called a “global kitchen,” where 72 stores will provide food ranging from formal dishes to fast food, from Chinese to western, from bakery goods to ice cream. Airport officials have promised that people who buy products at the airport will see the same prices as in Central Beijing.
In addition to food and drink businesses, there will be a 12,600-sq.m domestic retail area, a 10,600-sq.m duty-free-store area and nearly 7,000-sq.m convenience service area, including banks, business centres, Internet services and more. At 45,200 sq.m, the commercial area will be twice the size of Beijing’s Lufthansa Shopping Centres.
To get from Terminal 3C to 3D and 3E, both domestic and international travellers will have to get boarding passes at T3C, but international passengers have to board from T3E. The two-kilometer trip between the two buildings is shortened to two minutes by an intra-terminal train.
To help passengers go to the right terminal, the airport provides free inter-terminal shuttles between T3 and Terminals 1 and 2 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The buses set out every ten minutes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and every 20 minutes during other times.
It provides 66 aerobridges or jetways, further complemented with remote parking bays which bring the total of gates to 120 for the terminal alone. Terminal 3 also comes with an additional runway. It increases BCIA's total capacity up by 50 million passengers per year to a total of approximately 82 million.
Airlines and destinations
After slots were given to , Continental Airlines began non-stop flights between and Beijing on June 15, 2005. On September 25, 2007, American Airlines and US Airways were awarded nonstop flights to Beijing from and , respectively, with the American Airlines' Chicago-O'Hare flight to begin on April 7, 2009 and the US Airways' Philadelphia flight to begin in 2010. This became US Airways' first destination in Asia. Both of these airlines will operate from the new Terminal 3 as they are part of Star Alliance and oneworld .
The airport has three terminals. Terminal 1 is currently housing Hainan Airlines and its subsidiaries, Terminal 2 serves China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, SkyTeam members and other domestic and international flights. Terminal 3, the newest terminal at Beijing Airport, serves Air China, Star Alliance and Oneworld members, and some other domestic and international flights which do not operate from Terminals 1 and 2.
According to the Forbes magazine, the airport has been voted the 2nd worst in 2007 in terms of punctuality. However, airport general manager Dong Zhiyi said official statistics showed that 86.28 percent of its take-offs were on schedule, much higher than Forbes's reported 33 percent. These figures would substantially lift it in the Forbes ratings, far above Europe's worst airport, Charles De Gaulle in Paris, which had only 50 percent of departures leaving on time. In addition, 84.88% of PEK's flights from the June - August period took off or landed in time, despite heavy periods of lightning and rain.
The major long-haul international destinations from Beijing are Frankfurt, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, New York, Paris-CDG, San Francisco and Vancouver. Other destinations becoming increased include Chicago, Dubai, Sydney, Toronto and Washington.
Destinations by region
Destinations by airlines
Connections by Road
The airport was remote when it was first built, with a narrow road serving it from Sanyuanqiao. In the early 1990s, a 20 km stretch of expressway -- the -- connecting downtown Beijing from the Northeastern 3rd Ring Road at Sanyuanqiao directly to the airport -- was opened.
By 2008, four expressways will link to the airport:
* , from the south
* 2nd Airport Expressway, from the east
* Northern Airport Line, from the northwest
* Litian Expressway, from the east
All of these expressways, except for the Airport Expressway are under construction.
Connections by Rail/Urban Public Transit
Beijing Capital International Airport is served by the of the Beijing Subway. The line runs from Terminal 3 and Terminal 2 stations to Dongzhimen, with a stop at Sanyuanqiao. It was opened on July 19, 2008, in time for the 2008 Olympics. Buses run from the airport to many parts of the city.
Beijing Airport Express Train