A futuristic new airport in Beijing, which is expected to become one of the busiest in the world, was opened by President Xi Jinping here on Wednesday.
Xi declared the starfish-shaped airport open in brief remarks at a ceremony inside the huge terminal, days before the country holds a grand celebration to mark 70 years of Communist rule.
Located 46 kilometers (29 miles) south of Tiananmen Square, the Beijing Daxing International Airport will operate at full capacity in 2040, with eight runways and the potential to receive 100 million passengers per year.
The airport is seen as a fitting embodiment of the “Chinese dream” Xi has offered his fellow citizens.
Both foreign and domestic carriers have announced plans to move their operations to the new airport.
British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Finnair have already announced their new routes to Daxing to tap the potential of the new aviation hub.
The SkyTeam alliance, which includes Delta, Air France and Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM), was expected to move over to the new airport, along with their partners Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines.
But, Delta and Air France said the decision whether to move airports had not yet been made.
The third largest Chinese airline, Air China, is expected to keep flying the bulk of its flights from Beijing Capital International Airport.
At 700,000 square meters (173 acres) — about the size of 100 football pitches — the new structure will be one of the world’s largest airport terminals.
The building was designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, who died in 2016.
Inside, it stands out for its flowing, curved lines and use of natural light that filters down to the lowest levels of the building through openings on the roof.
Underneath the terminal is a train station and metro line that will allow travelers to reach the city Centre in 20 minutes.
The project cost 120 billion yuan ($17.5 billion), or 400 billion yuan if rail and road links are included.
Air transport is booming in China as living standards increase along with peoples’ desire to travel.
It is expected to surpass the US to become the world’s biggest aviation market by the mid-2020s, according to the International Air Transport Association.