New Beijing and Shanghai Airports:
Making China's Planes Run on Time
Say what you will about the leaders of China's government, who often seem lamentably heavy-handed. Nonetheless, they're making the planes run on time, in the process upping the attractiveness of some Chinese sites to expanding businesses.
Recently open new airports in Beijing and Shanghai offer the freshest evidence of China's on-time/on-schedule ways.
Both projects are part of the Chinese government's massive program of urban reconstruction. Construction schedules for that huge host of projects were set to coincide with Oct. 1, the 50th anniversary of communist rule in China (www.prc50.gov.cn). And despite the snail's-pace progress that often seems to earmark the Chinese government's dealings, many of the projects will be completed before the target Oct. 1 date.
Beijing's new four-story, US$1.1 billion airport terminal (www.airport.cn.net), which opened this week, was badly needed, air industry analysts agree. The new structure encompasses 3.6 million sq. ft. (336,000 sq. m.), more than twice the space inside the old facility, where cramped, dingy conditions spurred numerous complaints.
The Beijing Evening News went ga-ga over the new airport's opening, announcing in its front-page banner headline: "Today Is A Great Day."
A number of other Beijing-area projects will also come in on schedule to meet the 50th anniversary date, including new housing on Beijing's busy Cow Street and two major overpasses.
The new Shanghai airport, however, is likely of even greater interest to companies interested in expanding in China.
That interest is due to the multi-tiered mainland location strategy that's being employed by many companies with a major presence in China. Many companies are setting up part of their mainland operational centers in Beijing to assure access to China's all-powerful central government. But the larger part of those mainland operations centers are being sited elsewhere in China, with much of the action going to Shanghai.
Once known as "the Paris of the East," Shanghai is again gaining favor in site selectors' eyes with the creation of the Pudong new town (www.pudong.shanghaichina.org) across the Huangpu River. Pudong has landed a number of prominent multinationals' major operations, including part of the regional headquarters operations for Allied Signal, Kodak, Philips, Roche and Sharpe.
In addition, Shanghai is a favorite among the Beijing officialdom as a "socialist market economy" showcase. Not coincidentally, the Shanghai area's new $1.6 billion airport is located in the Pudong area. Last week, a Shanghai Airlines Boeing 767 bound for the city of Chunking in southwest China took off as the inaugural flight from the new Pudong International Airport.
Shanghai Air is among the area airlines that obviously already favor the new Pudong Airport over Shanghai's old airport in Hongqiao across the Huangpu. Officials at Shanghai Air say the company will move half its flights to Pudong in the next three to five years.
Further growth is planned at the Pudong Airport, with design plans already in place for a second phase of expansion. However, those future expansion plans at present don't include fixed construction schedules, say Shanghai Airport Group officials. Future airport traffic volume, particularly from the business sector, will likely determine the fate of those expansion plans.
Pudong's business sector, though, may get a boost very soon from the new airport's on-schedule delivery. Opened on Sept. 16, Pudong International will not only meet the 50th anniversary date, but will also be online to help showcase the area for the host of multinational CEOs expected to attend the Sept. 27-29 Fortune Global Forum in Shanghai.
Those CEOs will be meeting inside yet another on-time/on-schedule piece of China's urban construction program: the Shanghai International Exhibition Center, which is also located in Pudong.
Another important site selection-related project that's expected to be in place in time for China's 50th anniversary celebration is a pedestrian tunnel beneath the Huangpu River. By linking Pudong to Shanghai's older sections, the tunnel will significantly increase the size and skill of the labor pool available to corporate facilities in Pudong, analysts say.
In addition, Shanghai last week opened to traffic the final section of the city's $2.2 billion elevated expressway system. And the city's second subway line will also come online in the next few weeks, government officials say.