British Airways Becomes First International Airline At Beijing Daxing

On Sunday, October 27 2019, British Airways made its first flight into Beijing Daxing International Airport. The airline has become the first international airline to do so since the new, state-of-the-art airport was officially opened last month.

On Sunday, October 27 2019, British Airways made its first flight into Beijing Daxing International Airport. Photo: British Airways

China’s newest airport – one of the most technologically advanced in the world – will welcome a daily service from British Airways operating between Heathrow and Beijing Daxing. Offering advanced facial recognition, smart robotics and ultra-fast 5G mobile services, the hi-tech airport is expected to eventually become one of the world’s busiest.

In a recent press release from British Airways, Noella Ferns, the airline’s Executive Vice President, revealed that this new service will play an important part in British Airways’ strategy “to increase travel between China, the UK and beyond”. Beijing Daxing International Airport is also representative of China’s wider commitment to becoming a key player in international air travel.

Daxing Airport is now the world’s largest airport. Photo: British Airways

British Airways service

British Airways’ milestone maiden flight on a Boeing 777-300 touched down in Beijing Daxing at 09.15 local time on Sunday, 27 October 2019. The airline is now running a daily service between Heathrow and Beijing Daxing, with four cabins: First, Club World (business class), World Traveller Plus (premium economy) and World Traveller (economy).

Arrival crew at Beijing Daxing International Airport. Photo: British Airways

Approximately 50 foreign airlines, including LOT, Finnair and Malaysia Airlines, plan to move all or part of their China operations to the airport in the coming quarters. Officials expect the relocation of services to Daxing to finish in 2021.

Making the switch

While the airport has been open since September, the move in date of October 27 for international airlines marked start of the northern winter scheduling season for the aviation industry. China’s switch to new air traffic routes to accommodate the new airport took place on October 10, and was heralded as “largest airspace adjustment and planning in the history of civil aviation in China” by Beijing News.

According to Forbes, while Daxing’s construction may be finished, supporting systems in aviation are still under work to facilitate the new airport. The airport is expected to handle up to 72 million passengers a year by 2025, eventually reaching 100 million.

Sustainable design

Designed by legendary Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid (who died in 2016 before she was able to see the project to fruition), the new terminal is the biggest single terminal in the world. It boasts five concourses, engineered to be as energy-efficient as possible, offering customers a paperless journey from check-in to boarding.

The terminal’s hi-tech technology includes facial recognition and self-service biometrics at security, self-service check-in kiosks and baggage drop machines as well as live-time baggage tracking.

Beijing Daxing International Airport. Photo: British Airways

However, according to the South China Morning Post, what could be the most anticipated innovation at the new airport is its deployment of artificial intelligence-powered smart robots, which can work alongside regular airport personnel.

As SimpleFlying previously reported, China plans to build 200 new airports across the country within the next 15 years and with a 2035 target of 450 airports, China is looking to almost double its current total of 234 airports. Whether the new Beijing Daxing International Airport will live up to the current hype and see itself listed is one of the world’s top airports remains to be seen. We recommend reading our 10 Things You Should Know About Beijing’s New Daxing Airport to learn more about the new aviation hub.

Have you already traveled to Beijing Daxing? Let us know about your experience in the comments!