Proposals for giant third airport could mean 120 million passengers pass through Chinese capital a year.

Beijing is moving to overtake London as the world’s busiest aviation hub with the construction of a third airport that could have as many as nine runways.

The new mega-project – part of a huge expansion of China‘s airline industry – has alarmed environmental groups, who warn aircraft will increasingly contribute to the country’s already dire pollution problems and high greenhouse gas emissions.

The government has yet to announce details of the project, but the Guardian has spoken to sources familiar with the initial designs and seen signs of construction in the rural district of Daxing, about 31 miles (50km) south-west of the city centre.

On the roadside, labourers are building an elaborate 10m-high steel and concrete map of the world topped by giant red characters declaring: “Construction of a New Airport City for the Capital.”

Migrant workers, who live in tents on the site, said they had started work last month on the paving and fountains for the monument.

This follows the inclusion earlier this year of a new capital airport in the government’s latest five-year plan.

It was only four years ago that the existing airport in the north of the city opened a huge third terminal ahead of the Beijing Olympics. Designed by the British architect, Norman Foster, it was then the world’s biggest airport building, with more floor space than all five Heathrow terminals combined. But it has filled faster than expected due to the rapid growth of China’s economy. Guardian

 

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