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Beijing to become world’s busiest airport this year

Beijing Capital International Airport will become the world’s busiest airport in 2012, overtaking Atlanta, a new report has predicted.

According to the ‘China Airports Evolution Analysis’ report, released this week by aviation data analysts OAG, Beijing airport’s scheduled non-stop passenger capacity will exceed that of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this year, rising to approximately 55 million scheduled passengers. If the forecast is correct, this would end Atlanta’s 15-year reign as the world busiest airport.

The Chinese air travel market has the potential to grow 10 times from where it is today, assuming China will reach a similar level of propensity to travel as Europe and the US and to become 4.3 the size of the US air travel market,” OAG stated the report. “This potential presents huge opportunities for the aviation industry and that in years to come the top 20 airports of the world will be dominated by Chinese airports.”

Looking at the sheer size of China’s population, this could easily be the case. At the end of 2010, 13 Chinese cities had populations in excess of five million people, with the top five - Shanghai, Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Shenzhen – all exceeding 10 million inhabitants. The annual rates of passenger growth at Shanghai Pudong and Guangzhou Baiyun airports are even higher than Beijing, at 13% and 9% respectively.

In addition, Beijing has commissioned a new “mega-airport” that will include nine runways and have an annual capacity of at least 120 million passengers.

Beijing is expected to play a major role in transport for the Asia Pacific region and [as a] main bridge with the rest of the world,” OAG concluded