Update: GoKunming visited Changshui International Airport on June 28 — the day Changshui officially opened.
Kunming mayor Zhang Zulin's announcement in March that the city's new airport would open June 28 was simple and direct, if not lacking for details.
Those details are now public and outline the transition of business from century-old Kunming Wujiaba International Airport to the new Kunming Changshui International Airport (昆明长水国际机场). The transition is planned to take nine days and involves relocating staff, setting up new bus schedules and rerouting hundreds of airplanes, Chunyun is reporting.
Beginning June 25 air traffic at Wujiaba Airport is scheduled to be gradually reduced to 60 percent of capacity. The final flights will leave the evening of June 27, with the ultimate flight leaving at 10pm.
The 33 planes scheduled to fly that night will travel to their destinations and then be grounded until they are cleared to fly return routes to the new airport the next morning. Changshui Airport will officially open June 28 and service outbound and inbound flights beginning at 8am.
Several routes that typically have layovers in Kunming will be changed to non-stop flights to give the newly opened airport a chance to iron out any wrinkles. Many small commuter flights will also be cancelled during this time. All cancelled or diverted flights are scheduled to resume on July 4.
The 23 billion yuan (US$ 3.6 billion) project will open as the country's fourth largest airport and have an initial annual capacity of 38 million passengers and 950,000 tons of cargo.
The airport will service China, Europe and destinations throughout Asia. Changshui International is also expected to become a shipping hub connecting those regions to southwest China. With planned upgrades and expansion of existing runways, the airport is expected to handle 65 million passengers annually by the year 2040.
Changshui International will have eight domestic check-in areas, lettered A-H, and two international areas lettered J and K. According to schematics, the airport has three concourses, somewhat confusingly divided into four sections.
Travelers will embark on their journeys through 78 boarding gates connected by 50 moving walkways. In an attempt to avoid the shortcomings of Wujiaba, designers of Changshui Airport devoted much of the interior space to seating. The design also anticipated heavy traffic from privately owned vehicles and has three floors of underground parking.
The new airport is 30 kilometers northeast of Kunming. For travelers without cars, taxis are always an option. A taxi ride from the city center will cost between 60 and 80 yuan.
The city has also established four shuttle bus lines which connect to the airport from different areas around Kunming. Shuttle #1 operates daily from 5am until 1am, while routes 2, 3 and 4 begin services at 7am and stop running at 1am. Tickets for express buses will initially cost 25 yuan per passenger.
People living in or traveling from the east of the city may want to experience the first operational section of Kunming's light rail system. The metro line will connect the East Bus Station (东部汽车客运站) to Changshui Airport. Trains are scheduled to be in service on June 28 and will leave for the airport every 25 minutes. Tickets will cost two yuan.
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