New Airport? Just Do It!

It’s always nice to come home from a long trip but we can’t help but confess that sometimes returning from a shiny new airport to some of the drab and outdated, over worked North American terminals can be depressing. Yes New York we’re talking about the likes of JFK and LGA. But don’t get too cocky LA, some of the terminals of LAX are also downright dreary. One international traveler we overheard arriving from New Zealand said LAX’s Terminal 2, “Looked like a converted prison and not an international gateway.” But it doesn’t have to be this way.

All over the world cities and countries are upgrading their air infrastructure. From Istanbul to Dubai and Muscat to Beijing plans are underway to build new airports. Wait a second did we say Beijing? Didn’t they just christen the new Beijing Capital International Airport in 2008? Yes but they’re already making plans for a new airport that’ll come into service in 2017; a scant 4 years from now. How long did it take to build Terminal 5 at Heathrow? Well I digress.

PEK in Beijing is already the busiest airport in Asia and the second busiest in the world in terms of passenger traffic. Its capacity is about 76mm passengers a year and in 2012 they hosted 73.9mm. So unlike many other countries officials are already working on plans for another world-class airport in the region.

Plans call to build an entirely new airport in southern Beijing’s Daxing district that will eventually be capable of carrying a staggering 60mm passengers a year. The first phase should have capacity for 40mm passengers annually and it supposed to be ready for a 2017 launch. They could teach a thing or two about airport development to the Germans who have had one nightmare delay after another with the new Berlin Airport.

Sources with the Civil Aviation Administration of China said that the project has yet to be approved by the National Development and Reform Commission, but Wang Jian, Secretary-General of China Civil Airport Association, is confident that the new airport will have at least four runways for civilian use.

We find this optimism infectious and we applaud the idea that building a new airport isn’t a cost but rather an investment. All too often in the West it seems that large public works projects are mishandled, mismanaged or simply misplaced. It’s a lot easier for a cash-strapped government to do nothing then to invest in the future. But we think this is wrong. When it come to investing in the future we think it’s best to paraphrase Nike, Just Do It! They are around the world so why not in the US, Canada and Europe?

As frequent travelers we’re biased, but study after study shows the positive economic impact of increased air links. The world is a beautiful place and we’d like our home airports to reflect that beauty.

So what do you think? Should our governments be investing more in airport infrastructure and better air links?