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New domestic flight hub vows to be an airy affair

The new terminal at the Hongqiao Airport will become the city's dominant domestic air hub when it opens on March 28 next year, the airport operator said yesterday, promising a spacious experience and passenger-friendly boarding procedures.


Only two private Chinese carriers and eight daily international flights will operate from the old hall when the new West Terminal begins welcoming passengers, according to the Shanghai Airport Authority, which runs the Hongqiao facility and Pudong International Airport.


The second terminal is part of Hongqiao's 14-billion-yuan (US$2 billion) expansion, which also features a second runway and another cargo zone. The upgrade is expected to help double passenger volume to 40 million annually by 2015.


Because Hongqiao is Shanghai's primary airport for domestic flights, increasing service capacity and quality is important to the city as next May's World Expo is forecast to bring 70 million visitors to town during its 184-day run. Most of them will be Chinese, and many will be landing at Hongqiao.


Li Derun, a deputy president of the Shanghai Airport Authority, said yesterday that passengers will find the new terminal impressively spacious and the boarding procedure quick and convenient.


The West Terminal covers 364,000 square meters, more than four times the size of the terminal that's now in service.


Quick check-ins


Passengers will be able to follow a convenient route to complete check-in and boarding procedures and will need to walk only a short distance, Li said.


"Passengers will find a spacious and pleasantly lit environment inside the new terminal," Li said yesterday.


The two terminals will be connected by walkways and an underground tube link to a future integrated transport hub that's shared by high-speed trains, the Metro system and long-distance and urban transit buses.


When the new terminal is open, the older building will serve only Spring Airlines and Juneyue Airlines, two private Chinese carriers, as well as eight daily flights between Shanghai and Japan and South Korea, Li said. The local government now has no plans to increase international flight services at Hongqiao Airport, but room is available if it decides to do so in the future, airport officials said.


The new runaway, which will open a couple weeks before the new terminal, will be 3,300 meters long and 60 meters wide, and its apron will be able to park 64 passenger jets, 13 cargo planes and provide 14 spaces for maintenance work.


The runway and terminal project is expected to complete construction and undergo tests at the end of this year.


The transport hub is also scheduled to open in March, city officials said.


(Shanghai Daily April 17, 2009)