China Eastern Airlines to build base worth $2 billion at new Beijing airport

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's economic planner on Thursday approved China Eastern Airlines' 600115.SS0670.HK 13.2-billion-yuan (1.54 billion pounds) plan for a base at an expansive new airport in Beijing that could eventually be the world's largest, when completed.

The National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement on its website that the base will cover 1.17 million square meters, and 30 percent of the investment, or 3.96 billion yuan, will be funded by China Eastern.

The remaining 92.4 billion yuan will be financed using domestic bank loans, the statement added.

China plans to complete the first phase by 2019, and will be able to serve 45 million passengers a year with four runways on the first opening. Two more phases would push the capacity to an annual count of 100 million passengers.

That would put the airport as the world’s largest in surface area, roughly in line with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest by number of annual passengers.

Upon completion, rival state carrier, China Southern Airlines Co Ltd 600029.SS, will also relocate to the new airport from the existing Beijing Capital International Airport, the airport project managers told reporters last year.

They said China Eastern and China Southern will handle 40 percent of the new airport’s footfalls.

Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips