Air Transport World

Betting on New Baiyun: Guangzhou set to inaugurate new gateway to southern China.(Airports)

New Baiyun International Airport at Guangzhou bills itself as an ultramodern gateway to South China. As of this writing, flight operations were slated to begin at the end of the month--although much remains to be done in the time remaining, which perhaps explains the media-shy profile that airport authorities have maintained during the run-up process.

Regardless of whether it opens on schedule, there is an economic rationale for the project that will not wait. Situated at the head of the Pearl River Delta in the exporting powerhouse of Guangdong Province, Guangzhou is the country's third-largest city, with a metropolitan population of 7.8 million. It is a center for scores of significant industrial enterprises and also headquarters of China Southern Air Holding Co., the biggest airline group in the People's Republic.

Plus, 55-year-old Guangzhou Baiyun International is showing its age and long ago outgrew its capacity. With only four airbridges and a single runway, it was built for 8 million passengers but served 16 million last year, including those on 107 daily domestic flights to 77 mainland cities as well as 22 international services to 20 destinations. …

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