Beijing Capital International Airport unleashes its T3 ‘dragon’

Massive new airport terminals started operating in Beijing and Shanghai Wednesday to cope with increasing passenger numbers in the cities.

In Beijing, Air China and United Airlines joined 18 other carriers opening for business at the dragon-shaped Terminal 3 (T3).

The new terminal will handle 60 percent of the airport’s passenger flow, officials said earlier in a news release.

Scattered across three terminals, passengers said they felt comfortable in the new surroundings.

“T3 is modern and bright, with many choices for dining. There are many information counters, and people answer questions with patience and smiling faces,” Jing Xiaolei, a passenger, said.

Capital airport’s Terminal 2 (T2) has been criticized for being “as crowded as a railway station” on busy days. Some people have joked that passengers in a rush to catch a flight had a hard time running to their gates because of the crowds everywhere.

But yesterday, T2 was unusually quiet, with almost half of the check-in desks closed. The usually long taxi queues outside T2 were also gone.

The airport advised passengers to call 64541100 to find out which terminal their flights would be using, especially for code-share flights.

Meanwhile, a new terminal at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport – the country’s second largest terminal – started serving passengers after three years of construction work.

Pudong airport, the country’s busiest after Beijing, has a projected annual passenger capacity of 60 million and a yearly cargo capacity of 4.2 million tons.

Wu Nianzu, chairman of the Shanghai airport authority, said: “The move is an important step in helping Shanghai become an international air hub.”

By the end of last year, Pudong airport had a cargo capacity of 2.51 million tons, ranking it sixth in the world.

Pudong’s Terminal 2 is located east of the existing terminal, and covers an area of 546,000 sq m, twice the size of its first terminal.

The new structure will reduce domestic-to-domestic and international-to-inter-national transfer times to about 45 minutes, while domestic-to-international transfers will take about 60 minutes, the Shanghai airport authority said.

But, for all its glamor, the new terminal’s debut was not without moments of confusion.

A 30-year-old clerk named Wang who was flying to Chongqing for business was seen hurrying to the check-in counter.

“I wasn’t sure which terminal I should go to, and I wasted a lot of time,” he said.

He said signs should be posted to identify the terminals, and tickets should clearly indicate the assigned terminal.

Fifteen airline companies have set up shop at Terminal 2. All but one are foreign companies. Some of the major ones are Northwest Airlines, Air India and the domestic Shanghai Airlines.

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