China accounted for approximately 14.5% of the passengers carried by air in 2018, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Civil Aviation Statistics of the World estimates.

Chinese airports ended 2018 with a 10% year-over-year growth in traffic, to 1.26 billion. The number of Chinese airports that handled more than one million passengers increased from 84 in 2017 to 95 in 2018.

Passenger traffic at Chinese airports during the 11 months ended November 2019 reached 1.24 billion.

The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak (2019-nCoV) is, however, expected to affect the passenger growth from December 2019 and further into 2020 due to temporary closures and restrictions imposed in measures to minimise the spread. Three of the busiest airports in China are located in provinces that are among the ten most affected by the novel coronavirus.


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Airport Technology lists the ten busiest airports in China, based on traffic.

1. Beijing Capital International Airport

Beijing Capital International Airport is one of the two international airports located in the Chinese capital city, Beijing. Annual passenger traffic of the airport grew by 5.4% in 2018 to 100.98 million making it the busiest in China. The airport also handled two million tonnes (Mt) of cargo during the year.

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Hong Kong-listed Beijing Capital International Airport Company (BCIA) owns and operates the airport. Capital Airports Holding Company holds 56.61% stake in its subsidiary BCIA, while public investors hold the remaining.

As many as 105 domestic and international airlines had scheduled operations at the airport as of December 2018.

Beijing Capital Airport handled 100.01 million passengers in 2019 witnessing a 1% drop, which is attributed to the start of operations at the new Beijing Daxing International Airport in south Beijing in September 2019.

2. Shanghai Pudong International Airport

Pudong airport, located in Shanghai, handled 74 million passengers in 2018, witnessing a 5.4% growth year-over-year. It handled 3.76Mt of cargo in 2018 becoming the largest air cargo hub in China.

Chinese state-owned Shanghai Airport Authority (SAA) is the operator of both Pudong and Hongqiao international airports in Shanghai.

In September 2019, a new satellite terminal was opened in Pudong airport, which increased the airport’s annual capacity to 80 million. The H-shaped satellite terminal is spread over an area of 620,000m².

3. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport

Guangzhou Baiyun international airport is located in Guangzhou city in Guangdong province, which is the second most-affected province in China by coronavirus. It handled 69.7m passengers in 2018 achieving 5.9% annual growth. The cargo volume handled by the airport stood at 1.89Mt in 2018.

The airport handled 35.64 million passengers in the first half of 2019. It is a hub for China Southern Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Jiuyuan Airlines, and cargo carrier Longhao Airlines.

Shanghai-listed Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport Company is the operator of the airport. The operations of the newly constructed second terminal at the airport were started in April 2018.

4. Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport

Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport is located in Chengdu in China’s western province of Sichuan. The passenger traffic at this airport grew by 6.3% to 52.95 million in 2018, while cargo volumes handled were 665,000t.

The airport is the main hub for Sichuan Airlines and Chengdu Airlines.

A new international airport named Chengdu Tianfu is being constructed by Chinese state-owned Sichuan Province Airport Group in Jianyang city, approximately 50km from Chengdu. Tianfu airport is expected to start operations in 2021 and is expected to handle 40 million passengers a year in the first phase.

5. Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport

Bao’an International Airport is located in Shenzhen in Guangdong province which is close to Hong Kong. The airport’s annual passenger traffic grew by 8.2% to 49.35 million in 2018, while cargo handled was 1.2Mt. The airport is a hub for Shenzhen Airlines.

During the first nine months ended September 2019, Shenzhen Bao’an international airport handled 39.35 million passengers.

Shenzhen Airport Group is the operator of the airport. Some of the major airlines operating from this airport include Shenzhen Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Hainan Airlines.

6. Kunming Changshui International Airport

Changshui international airport, located in Kunming city in China’s southwest Yunnan province, witnessed 5.3% annual growth in passenger traffic, which reached 47.08 million, in 2018. The airport handled 428,000t of cargo during the year.

The airport is the hub for Lucky Air and Kunming Airlines. Yunnan Airport Group is the owner and operator of the Kunming Changshui international airport.

7. Xi’an Xianyang International Airport

Xi’an Xianyang international airport is located in Xi’an city in northwest Shaanxi province. The passenger traffic at the airport touched 44.65 million, growing at 6.7% year-over-year in 2018. The cargo movement through the airport was 312,600t during the same period.

The passenger traffic at Xi’an Xianyang international airport further grew by 5.7% to 47.2 million in 2019, according to a release by Fraport.

Xi’an Xianyang International Airport Company is the airport operator, in which China West Airport Group holds a 50.9% stake. German airport developer Fraport and China National Aviation Corporation hold a 24.5% stake each in the airport.

Xianyang is the hub airport for Joy Air and Hainan Airlines.

8. Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport

Hongqiao international airport is older and smaller of the two international airports in Shanghai. The passenger traffic at the airport was 43.63 million in 2018, 4.2% higher compared to 2017.

Both Shanghai Pudong and Shanghai Hongqiao airports are operated by the Shanghai Airport Authority (SAA). The two airports are the main hubs for China Eastern Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Juneyao Airlines, and Spring Airlines.

9. Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport

Jiangbei international airport is located in Chongqing city in south-west China. It witnessed passenger traffic of 41.6 million in 2018 and recorded annual growth rate of 7.4%. It also handled 382,000t of cargo in 2018.

Chongqing Airport Group Company is the operating company of the airport. Chongquing municipal government is responsible for the management of Chongqing Airport Group Company. The third terminal of the airport was opened in 2017.

The airport is the main hub for Chongqing Airlines and China Express Airlines.

Chongqing is among the ten most affected Chinese provinces by the 2019-nCoV outbreak that originated in Wuhan.

10. Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport

Xiaoshan international airport is located in Hangzhou city, the capital of Zhejiang province in east China. Zhejiang is the third most-affected Chinese province by coronavirus. The passenger traffic at the airport reached 38.2 million in 2018, recording 7.5% increase over 2017. The airport handled 640,900t of cargo in 2018.

The passenger traffic exceeded 40 million in 2019, growing by approximately 4.7% compared to 2018.

Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport Company, a subsidiary of Zhejiang Airport Group Company, is the operator of the airport, which was opened in December 2000.

The major airlines operating from the airport include Air China, Xiamen Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and China Eastern Airlines.