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Volume 14,Issue 3 Autumn 2012

China unveils BCIA Terminal 3


“The newest Terminal Three is the largest and most advanced airport building in the world – a celebration of the thrill and poetry of flight.” This is how Norman Foster, the chief architect behind the design and construction of the Beijing International Capital Airport Terminal Three (BCIA T3), describes the grand mega-structure. The architect’s choice of words depicts both the artistry and functionality of the newest terminal building in Beijing. Beijing’s newest Terminal Three (T3) is undoubtedly the largest, if not the grandest, airport terminal ever built. Apart from its dragon-shape design, representing the inherent Chinese culture, what is exceptional about this multimillion dollar airport terminal is the fact that this mega-structure was completed in less than four years, ahead of schedule for its intended primary purpose. The infrastructure, built with a long tail, golden roof and triangular-shaped skylights resembling scales, reminds us of the country’s imperial heritage. BCIA T3 will soon welcome the world to China’s capital as it gears up in time for the 29th Olympic Games. China has invested RMB 27 billion, equivalent to USD 3.65 billion, for the expansion and development of the BCIA T3. It is considered the biggest and most significant construction project ever accomplished in China in line with the country’s hosting of the unprecedented and much-awaited Olympic Games this summer.
BCIA T3 construction When Beijing was chosen as the host of the 2008 Olympic Games in 2001, China immediately began its daunting preparations. The tremendous development started not only in the capital city but throughout the country. Waves of construction began to sweep across the capital and the underlying regions. It even echoed across the mainland. Pounding the grounds and erecting structures have beencommon sights in China ever since 2001. Over the span of the last seven years, China has established three phases in preparation for the mega-event. The first phase began in October 2001, and lasted until the first half of 2003. This was intended as the design phase of the "Olympic Games Action Plan." The second phase, from the second half of 2003 to the first half of 2006, was coined as the “full-scale construction” stage. The third and last stage, which began in the second half of 2006 and has lasted until this very moment, prior to the opening of the 2008 Olympic Games, is intended for examinations, adjustments, tests and trial runs. Within this period, all the items and preparatory works in China are set to be accomplished and operated. This includes BCIA T3’s fulfillment and the kickoff of operations. The T3 building, covering an area of one million sq. m., began construction on March 28, 2004. It was part of a mega-construction project for the Olympics’ first point of entry, Beijing Capital International Airport. The third terminal and third runway – in cooperation with the two existing runways and terminals -- can handle a combined capacity of 35 million passengers a year. The monthly arrivals during the Olympics is expected to reach 5.56 million! This is equivalent to the normal transport volume predicted for 2015. An increase in the flight movement capacity of the airport from 80 flights to 115 flights per hour is also expected once T3 finally opens for service. The project was designed by the London-based Foster + Partners and Arup. The foreign construction firms worked with several local Chinese construction companies in building BCIA’s Terminal Three. China assigned the foreign designers the task of providing multidisciplinary services for the construction of a new technologically advanced airport terminal in Beijing. The goal was to expand the airport by building a third terminal, which can cope with BCIA’s ever-increasing passenger volume following China’s entry into the World Trade Organization. The challenge was for the developers to finish the entire project in the span of four years, in time for the 2008 Olympiad. The opening of BCIA T3 The world watches anxiously as China conducts its first-stage run of the country’s colossal Terminal Three building, so far the biggest and largest the world has ever seen. According to the official notice released by the Beijing Airport authority, T3 will consist of three concourses-- C, D and E. These concourses will categorize the terminal into three separate zones, allowing the systematic flow of passengers, access to service facilities and proper ground handling. Concourse C is allotted for domestic and international check-in, domestic departures, and domestic and international baggage claim. Concourse D is temporarily dedicated for charter flights during the Olympic and the Paralympic Games, while concourse E is designated for international departures and arrivals. BCIA T3 will conduct its operation in two stages. The first stage, which successfully commenced on February 29th, involved the movement of six air carriers transferring to T3. These are Shandong Airlines (SC), Sichuan Airlines (3U), Qantas Airways (QF), Qatar Airways (QR), British Airways (BA) and El Al Israel Airlines (LY). The second stage, set for this March 26th, will move the remaining airlines to the new terminal. These are Air China (CA), Shanghai Airlines (FM), Scandinavian Airlines (SK), Austrian Airlines (OS), Deutsche Lufthansa (LH), Asiana Airlines (OZ), Air Canada (AC), United Airlines (UA), All Nippon Airways (NH), Thai Airways (TG), Singapore Airlines (SQ), Finnair (AY), Cathay Pacific Airways (CX), Japan Airlines (JL), Dragonair (KA), Turkish Airlines (TK), Emirates (EK), Air Macau (NX), S7 Airlines (S7) and Egypt Air (MS). As part of the preparation, BCIA held its largest and final drill of T3 on February 23rd -- before the terminal’s launching of its first trial operation on February 29th. The aim was to simulate the surge of passengers coming in for the Olympic Games. More than 8,000 people, mostly university students and volunteers, took part in the three-hour drill. More than 7,000 pieces of luggage were checked from 146 domestic and international flights simulated to have arrived and departed from T3. The objective of the drill was to assess the procedures of departure, arrival and transfer, as well as VIP security maintenance of the airport. The number of simulated flights involved was close to the estimated daily-average-expected-turnout once the terminal goes into full operation this year. With the final touches fully completed and put into place, there is no doubt that China has fulfilled its vision by bringing to fruition a structure as spectacular as the third terminal of the BCIA. All systems go for the Olympics? In addition to providing the design and construction of facilities capable of meeting the operational requirements of the world-renowned event, BCIA, as the primary gateway to the host city, needs to ensure that no aspect has been overlooked. BCIA’s development and expansion may be completed already, but the edifice and facilities were only half of the many elements required in preparing the country’s capital airport for a world mega-event such as the Olympic Games. Other preparations should also be given priority. The airport should ensure that the customs and immigration formalities are all set. BCIA should also give extensive thought to important factors such as airport environment, budget and finance, tourist information, medical services, security, technology and food concessionaires. Apart from these, all departments should be closely coordinated to ensure proper and timely delivery of service to both foreign and domestic passengers coming in this August. The past doubt about whether the structures can be delivered in time for the Olympiad has finally been cleared and settled. With the T3 now up and ready structurally, the table will now turn to T3’s capability in delivering the services that will fit the requirements of the grand event. Questions will now focus on human resources, technology and the many other important services required for China and the BCIA to run the operation smoothly. Aside from T3’s completion, the country has made significant progress in developing its Air Traffic Control (ATC) facilities and other areas of civil aviation. In fact, China has included the Olympic Games among its second primary tasks of “Civil Aviation Work for 2008.” China has invested much in honing the capabilities of its ATC, flight and ground workforce to handle the requirements and be up to par with the world’s standards. China has also implemented new reforms and made several adjustments to its aviation policies. It adjusted its airspace restrictions and opened additional air routes to meet the current demand of its civil aviation. This demonstrates the country’s determination to accomplish its goals as host to the forthcoming world event. China’s aviation, for the past seven years, has been highly motivated to develop the aviation infrastructures not only in Beijing but in every part of the Chinese mainland. And its hosting of the 2008 Olympic Games has somehow influenced the many changes and developments. China tried to beat the clock on T3’s development and it did. Let’s just hope that the rapid development of the BCIA T3 has taken full consideration of structural safety. With the scale and rapid pace of its development, the world would not want another incident in China similar to what occurred at the Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Now that the BCIA T3 is capable of accommodating millions of passengers through China’s main gateway to witness the Olympic Games, let us go back to the key question: Is China’s main gateway ready for the Olympiad? Perhaps the world will find out sooner as further development in China unfolds daily before our very eyes. In the meantime, let us wait and see the outcome of the country’s last phase of preparation as Beijing gets closer and closer to meeting the standard as host to the 2008 Olympic Games. What is certain is that the development we see in China today, like the completion of T3, will create large and lasting benefits to the host city and the entire country in the years to come.

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