China okays $6bn for airport expansion

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China’s President Xi Jinping

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on Monday approved a ¥42.1 billion ($6.06 billion) airport expansion project in Urumqi, capital of the far western region of Xinjiang.

Xinjiang is a key hub in China’s Belt and Road initiative.

Construction will run through 2030 when the expanded airport is expected to handle 63 million passengers and 750,000 tonnes of cargo a year, NDRC said in a statement.

The expansion includes construction of two additional runways.

The investment value is over half of what China is spending on Beijing’s new mega-airport project – Daxing International Airport – that costs ¥80 billion and will serve 72 million passengers a year by 2025.

Oil and mineral-rich Xinjiang has seen infrastructure construction spring up across the region in recent years as it is considered by China to be a key node in President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative.

Xi’s multi-billion-dollar plan aims to bolster a sprawling network of land and sea links with Asian neighbours and beyond.

The Urumqi expansion is aimed at accommodating the rapid aviation growth in Xinjiang and spurring the growth of an international aviation hub in the city, the NDRC said.