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Asia-Pacific is the hottest place on the planet for airport development projects, writes Joe Bates.

ACI’s Asia-Pacific region remains the hottest ticket in town for infrastructure development with a number of new airports being built while existing gateways continue to add new facilities.

In fact, as ACI Asia-Pacific regional director, Patti Chau, revealed earlier this year, the region is the busiest place on earth for airport development projects with its gateways being responsible 48.5% of $500 billion global spend on upgrading existing airports and 57% of the $267 billion being invested on new airports.

China alone is set to raise its number of commercial airports from 229 today to 260 by 2020 and 400 by 2035 as part of its ‘Belt and Road’ initiative and India has set aside $2 billion for airport development over the next 15 years as it looks to make air travel affordable for its people and grow air links across the region.

Major new airports on the horizon include Vietnam’s $16.3 billion Long Thanh International Airport – see page 26 for more details – and New Manila Airport in The Philippines, which has a price-tag of $14 billion and is expected to open in 2025.

This article provides a snapshot of the latest development news from China, India, Myanmar, Nepal and Singapore.



China’s big build includes the construction of the $13.8 billion Beijing Daxing International Airport, which is set to be completed in 2019, and the opening of new state-of-the-art terminals at Yantai, Changsha-Huanghua, Hangzhou Xiaoshan and Xi’an Xianyang airports.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) recently announced that Beijing’s eagerly awaited new gateway, Daxing International Airport, will open on October 1, 2019.

Indeed, press reports in China quote CAAC’s head of administration, Feng Zhenglin, as saying that all the engineering projects associated with Beijing Daxing – including the construction of new road links – will be completed by the end of June 2019.

Located in Beijing’s Daxing district 60 kilometres south of Tiananmen Square, the new airport will eventually have seven runways and the capacity to handle over 100mppa, making it one of the largest airports in the world.

However, upon opening, Beijing Daxing will be equipped to handle 45mppa courtesy of four runways and a 700,000sqm terminal, which will have a three-mile long façade.

The first planned expansion phase will raise that capacity to 72 million passengers per annum by 2025, and eventually over 100mppa to complement today’s existing Beijing Capital International Airport, which handled 95.8 million passengers in 2017.

In August, Hong Kong-based architectural, urban planning and interior design firm Lead8, was named as the lead designer for the commercial offerings in the new terminal.

Its project brief calls for the purposeful design of a new generation of workspaces, with integrated retail, dining and entertainment offerings. As a result, Lead8 insists that it has adopted “a creative and inspiring approach in handling of the spaces, while working in collaboration with the operators”.

It adds that the design will also accommodate “interactive” pet hotels, childcare facilities and hybrid online retail and dining as well as showroom for brands and companies for product launch and weekend activities.

Simon Chua, co-founder and CEO of Lead8, said: “The new airport is a preview of the shape of the cities of the future. Our future workspaces are influenced by the changing lifestyles of a new generation, as work, entertainment and the hospitality industry come together to create new opportunities.

“We hope this project will inspire future airport developments as there is a growing demand for quality workspaces with integrated natural environments, especially in Beijing.”

The terminal itself and an 80,000sqm Ground Transportation Centre have been designed by Zaha Hadid Architects. A cavernous Central Atrium and six curved piers measuring up to 411 metres are key elements of the design of the terminal, which Zaha Hadid notes have been designed to be “extremely user-focused, efficient and adaptable for growth.”

China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines will be the main carriers at the airport, which will be a key component of a planned new “air transport-related economic zone”.

Elsewhere in China, Aedas spearheads the team that has been awarded the design and construction contract for Yantai International Airport Terminal’s new Terminal 2.

Its partners on the project include the China South West Architectural Design and Research Institute (CSWADI) and the New Era Airport Design Institute.

Scheduled to open in 2021, the new 167,000-square-metre building will be located south of existing Terminal 1 and is expected to be serving 23 million passengers annually by 2030.

And with a planned expansion to over 200,000 square metres, its capacity will rise to 34 million passengers per annum by 2040.

According to Aedas, the sweeping roof form of the terminal – which is the key project of the Phase 2 expansion of the airport – was inspired by Yantai’s majestic Kunyu Mountain.

It notes: “Undulating skylights will bring light deep into the terminal’s Departures check-in and processing Halls. The concourses are arranged to form a long coastline, with generous bays for aircraft parking and circulation. Skylights over the concourses will guide passengers intuitively towards the departure gates.”

The expansion project for Yantai International Airport is vital to allow the region to meet rapidly increasing demand for air travel generated by the growing Yantai and Shandong economies.

Meanwhile, Landrum & Brown (L&B) is involved in the design of new terminals at Changsha Huanghua (CSX), Hangzhou Xiaoshan (HGH) and Xi’an Xianyang (XIY) international airports.

In Hunan Province it has once again teamed up with CSWADI and the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group (CREEGC) to design the planned new 500,000sqm Terminal 3 at Changsha Huanghua International Airport.

Designs by an L&B led team are also being used for the new 700,000sqm East Terminal and 400,000sqm Ground Transport Centre (GTC) at China’s eighth busiest gateway, Xi’an Xianyang International Airport, where it is being supported by the North West Design Institute, Chinese Architectural Design Institute and other specialists.

And L&B has joined forces with the East China Architectural Design & Research Institute (ECADI) and the Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Architectural Design & Research (ZIAD) to design the new terminal at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport, currently China’s 10th busiest airport handling in excess of 31 million passengers per annum.



Myanmar’s Yangon International Airport (RGN) is to be further upgraded to better equip it to accommodate more traffic.

Operator, Yangon Aerodrome Company Limited (YACL), has also revealed that it is stepping up its marketing efforts in a bid to develop its international route network.

The announcements come despite the airport admitting that it is likely to close 2018 with the slowest growth rate in traffic for five years, +2.5% as it handled around six million passengers during the calendar year as opposed to the average 8.6% upturn of previous years.

“As the investor and operator of Myanmar’s main international airport, we have a responsibility to enhance infrastructure while striving to deliver a high level of safety, security and service,” says YACL’s CEO, Ho Chee Tong.

“Yangon is the gateway to Myanmar and it is important that we deliver an outstanding experience for tourists and business travellers.”

YACL took over YIA’s operation and management in October 2015 under a public-private partnership (PPP) tender from Myanmar’s Department of Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The agreement is for 30 years of operation, with an option to renew for a further 20 years (10+10). 

Recent new additions to the airport’s infrastructure include an Airport Operations Control Center (AOCC); revamped Apron A to allow eight positions for A320 and B737 aircraft or 10 positions for turboprops; two taxiways; 30 new check-in counters at T1; five new baggage claim belts; new lounges; and F&B outlets.

And over the next two to three years the airport plans to enhance its infrastructure with another parking apron capable of handling up to 13 Code C aircraft (Boeing 737); a new rapid exit taxiway; the construction of maintenance hangars and a new Fire-Rescue Station; and reconstruction of the old Terminal 2 to include technological upgrades.

Ho Chee Tong says: “We are committed to the continual development of Yangon International Airport. Beyond launching more routes and taking steps to improve our facilities and operations, we also plan to work with global airlines and tourism boards, too.

Today, YIA is served by 31 carriers – the latest new arrival being China’s Sichuan Airlines – which between them operate services to 29 international and 28 domestic destinations.

“We are committed to the continual development of YIA. Beyond launching more routes and taking steps to improve our facilities and operations, we plan to work with global airlines and tourism boards to drive growth for Myanmar’s leading airport,” he adds.


Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) has been chosen to design Terminal 1 and the ATC tower at Mumbai’s new international airport, which will be operated by the GVK-led Navi Mumbai International Airport Limited (NMIAL).

According to NMIAL, ZHA was selected after winning a challenging and intensive 12-week fast track design competition involving some of the world’s best international architecture firms.

Commenting on the decision, Dr GVK Reddy, founder and chairman of GVK and chairman of NMIAL, said: “Our vision is to establish another landmark airport that would exceed the benchmarks that we have set at Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport since the opening of Terminal 2.

“We are committed towards bringing the best global practices from the industry to design, engineer and build this most awaited airport project in India, and hence we decided to go with ZHA, a firm known for its path breaking and remarkable architecture. It also has the expertise of delivering a world class airport design through a highly professional team.”

GVK, through subsidiary Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL), holds a controlling 74% stake in NMIAL, which has signed a 30-year deal to operate the new airport.


Work has begun on the terminal buildings at Nepal’s planned new Pokhara International Airport, which is set to replace the city’s existing gateway in 2021.

Pokhara, located in western Nepal, is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations and the new airport – which will have separate domestic and international terminals – is expected to provide a major boost to tourism.

Nepali Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Rabindra Adhikari, laid the foundation stone marking the start of construction of the terminal buildings, which are expected to be completed within a year.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), the new airport will have a 10,000sqm international terminal and a 4,000sqm domestic terminal and initially be capable of handling up to one million passengers per annum.

Financed by a $215 million loan from the EXIM Bank of China and being constructed by China CAMC Engineering, Pokhara International Airport will be located three kilometres from the city’s existing gateway and also serve as an alternative gateway to Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan International Airport in the event of an emergency.

Local papers quote Adhikari as stating that work on the airport’s 2.5-kilometre long runway capable of handling aircraft such as B737s, A320s and B757-200s would begin in August/September 2018.

“The works are moving ahead smoothly as per the set timetable, and the airport will be brought into operation by July 2021,” Adhikari is quoted as stating.

It is one of the three new international airports being built in Nepal, whose only international gateway today is in the capital city of Kathmandu.



Seletar Airport’s new S$80 million passenger terminal has received its Temporary Occupation Permit and is on track to open for business at the end of 2018.

The 10,000sqm terminal is designed to handle up to 700,000 passengers per annum and is six times the size of the facility it will replace.

According to operator, Changi Airport Group (CAG), the new terminal’s departure area will have four check-in counters, six immigration lanes, two security screening stations and a “spacious” gate holdroom capable of accommodating 200 passengers.

It says that check-in, immigration and security screening counters are positioned in an “intuitive straight route through the departure hall”, enabling quick and stress-free boarding process for passengers.

CAG adds that the terminal’s interiors are designed to create a relaxed and comfortable feeling for passengers, and that it will have dedicated areas for passengers travelling on business charter flights and private jets.

When the new terminal becomes operational, Firefly – currently operating 20 daily turboprop flights to and from Subang, Ipoh and Kuantan at Singapore Changi – will switch its operations to Seletar.

The move, says CAG, ensures the “optimisation of resources within Singapore’s entire aviation system, as aircraft movements at Changi continue to increase”.

Khoh Su Lim, associate general manager of Seletar Airport, says: “We look forward to providing passengers with a fresh experience, in terms of comfort and convenience, when the new terminal starts operations around the end of the year.”

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