Beijing airport's passenger traffic to overtake Heathrow
Published 07/04/2010 | 05:00
BEIJING'S international airport is on course to overtake Heathrow as the second-busiest in the world.
Beijing Capital International has handled more passengers than Heathrow in the first two months of this year, already closing the traffic gap that existed between the two hubs at the end of last year.
Beijing handled 5.3 million passengers in February, compared with Heathrow's 4.6 million, and 5.4 million versus 4.8 million in January. Its lead of 1.3 million passengers in the first two months should easily put it ahead of Heathrow on an annualised basis.
Last year, Beijing was only 500,000 passengers behind Heathrow, having handled 65.4 million people, making it the third-busiest airport in the world. The busiest was Atlanta, a hub for US domestic traffic. Heathrow remains the busiest international airport, as it carries more long-haul passengers.
Analysts said the growth in passenger numbers at Beijing highlighted China's increased wealth, which has led to a huge rise in domestic travel.
International passenger numbers have also grown, while airports elsewhere in the world have been static or have suffered a decline in traffic. Only a decade ago, Beijing did not appear in a list of the world's 30 busiest airports.
Doug McVitie, managing director of Arran Aerospace, a consultancy, said: "There has been massive growth in Chinese air traffic and that has been driving the whole aviation sector. The industry is being dragged up from East to West, with China and Asia leading the recovery, while Europe and the US still struggle."