Sichuan capital transports itself to new era of trade and travel

Authors: Washington Post, The Daily Telegraph


The rapid development of Chengdu’s railway networks has led to a surge in trade between locally based companies and European countries.
Aviation hub
The city is also developing into a world-class aviation hub to expand its global connectivity.
The National Development and Reform Commission approved the construction of the Chengdu Tianfu International Airport in April, according to comments on the commission's official website responding to a feasibility study into plans for the airport.
This would make Chengdu the third city on the Chinese mainland to have a second civil aviation airport. With total investment of 72 billion yuan, Chengdu Tianfu International Airport will be located in Lujia Township, 31 miles southeast of downtown Chengdu. It is expected to be completed in 2019 and to open in 2020, said Dai Yongbo, deputy director of the Sichuan Development and Reform Commission.
Liu Yi, deputy chief architect of the China Southwest Architectural Design and Research Institute, which designed the new airport, said the first phase of the project will include three runways able to handle 320,000 flights, 40 million passengers and 700,000 metric tons of cargo annually by 2025.
In the long-term there are plans for the airport to have six runways with an annual capacity of 90 million passengers and 2 million tons of cargo. Through the intercity railway, highway and subway links to the new airport, passengers will be able to easily reach downtown Chengdu and its neighboring cities. The subway that will connect the new airport with the downtown area will travel at up to 87 miles an hour, meaning that a one-way trip will take only half an hour.
With rapid economic development and more frequent international exchanges, Chengdu has seen a sharp increase in its air traffic in recent years.
Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is the fourth busiest airport on the Chinese mainland. It handled 42 million passengers last year, 12 percent more than the year before, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said.
Passenger volume has continued to rise even though the airport is operating at peak capacity, hence the decision to build a new airport.
“Experts expect annual aviation passenger volume in Chengdu to reach 75 million by 2025,” said Zhang Xicheng, assistant to the general manager of the Sichuan Province Airport Group.
Zhang said the new airport will serve international passenger routes and most international cargo routes, while Shuangliu airport will handle domestic flights and some international cargo routes.
“The new airport is of vital importance in Chengdu's plans to build a modern transportation system and boost opening up and regional development,” Dai said. He added that only the new airport in Beijing is larger in size among airports being built in China.
Chengdu benefits from its geography, as many of the air routes from China to Europe overfly the city, he said. The new airport is expected to attract more international air routes, making Chengdu a key hub linking western China with the world.
Chengdu already has 86 international routes, the largest number in China’s central and western region, linking it to cities including San Francisco, London, Paris, Moscow, Doha and Melbourne.
In February Sichuan Airlines launched a direct route between Chengdu and Prague, the sixth direct route linking the city to Europe.
Chengdu also plans to open direct routes to other cities including New York, Sydney, Rome and Johannesburg this year, the Sichuan Port and Logistics Office said.
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