On Wednesday Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the earlier than scheduled opening of Beijing Daxing International Airport in a public ceremony. Abbreviated PKX, it's the Chinese capital's latest boost to support tourism and business related to Xi's flagship infrastructure project, the Belt and Road Initiative, and is vying to eventually be the world's busiest international hub.
The city's current main aviation hub, Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA) —currently the second busiest in the world behind Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson airport, is considered at capacity and increasingly wracked with delays.
The ambitious expectations for the massive 'starfish' designed airport is that it will handle 300 take-offs and landings an hour, seeing 45 million passengers go through its gates by 2021.
The long-term projection is that by 2025 it will handle 72 million travelers and by 2040 the hub hopes to see 100 million passengers per year, making it the busiest and largest in the world.
To reach these numbers will require a planned for increase in runways from its current four to seven runways in total, eventually serving up to 620,000 flights annually.
Beijing Daxing International Airport, pictured below last December while under construction, was designed by architect Zaha Hadid as a 'giant six-armed alien starfish'.
Its opening also comes days before the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic, which will include a huge military parade through central Beijing on Oct. 1.
Located south of Beijing the entire expanse of the airport takes up a whopping 47 square km (18 square miles – over half the size of Hong Kong Island).
The main terminal itself is the largest in the world at nearly 700,000 square meters.
Construction on Beijing Daxing International Airport, funded primarily by the Chinese government, came in at around $17.47 billion.
The new airport boasts of its own Huawei 5G base station as well as 'facial ID' check-in and security clearance upon boarding.