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World's biggest airport planned

Beijing set to beat London and Atlanta as world's busiest aviation hub with a new airport the size of Bermuda

London Heathrow Airport has topped the world’s busiest airport list (by international passengers) for the past 11 years, but the rank will certainly change when Beijing’s Daxing airport opens.

Currently under construction, the new airport will be Beijing’s third airport -- after Beijing Capital International Airport and the semi-military Nanyuan Airport -- and will occupy a total of 54 square kilometers with nine runways.

120 million annual passengers

Due to be completed in 2015, Daxing airport is expected to handle 120 to 200 million passengers a year. That’s twice, or even three times, the capacity of Heathrow’s current annual passenger flow.

The airport is planned only three years after the third terminal of Beijing Capital International Airport was put into operation.

Designed to manage air traffic during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, the terminal was then the world's largest airport building, with more floor space than all five Heathrow terminals combined.

Even that is not enough to handle China’s fast-growing air travel demand.

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I saw this yesterday, and marveled at the audacity of it. This could turn into the worst major airport in the world, or it could become an incredibly important and ever-evolving case study on how to build and adapt supermassive infrastructure.

A handful of years from now, there will be several Very Large Things in China which offer a new scale of human/logistical interactions to be studied, understood and managed. There will be a lot to learn, some of it unintuitive and/or surprising.

The industrial nations who have the opportunity to understand and operate these Very Large Things will have several advantages over those who don't. And if China's new mega-size is sustained over time, there will be even more of these Very Large Things in its future. So the lessons will pay off again and again.

I really wonder whether 40 years from now, the currently-developing areas of China will look like Hong Kong times 150... or Dubai times 700.

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