The Urumqi Diwopu international airport started operations in 1973. Image courtesy of GuoYilin.
The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) approved the expansion project in November 2018. Image courtesy of GuoYilin.
The project is expected to involve an investment of ¥42.1bn ($6.1bn). Image courtesy of Bohao Zhao.

The Urumqi Diwopu (IATA: URC) International Airport is located in Urumqi in the Xinjiang province of China. It serves as a gateway to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Operated by Xinjiang Airport Group,  Urumqi is the 18th busiest international airport in China. The airport has registered a steady growth in passenger movements and cargo throughput. It crossed the 20 million passenger mark in January 2017.

Urumqi Diwopu Airport witnessed the movement of 21.5 million passengers in 2017, an increase of 6.4% in comparison to 20.2 million passengers in 2016. It handled more than 156,741.5t of cargo in 2017.

The airport is anticipated to witness 30 million passengers by 2020. The significant rise in passenger traffic has necessitated the airport authorities to take up an expansion project to meet the growing demand for aviation services.

In November 2018, the expansion was officially approved by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) of China. It involves the construction of a new passenger terminal and two new runways.

Urumqi Diwopu International Airport expansion project details

Designated as the North Terminal, the new facility will cover an area of approximately 500,000m². It will be located towards the northern part of the airport.

The terminal has been under construction since 2017 and integrates three concourses with a centralised terminal processor facility. The terminal features sustainable features such as solar energy garden, natural light ventilation, and an ecological corridor.

“Operated by Xinjiang Airport Group,  Urumqi is the 18th busiest international airport in China.”

The North Terminal will have a passenger handling capacity of 32 million, which can be extended further to 50 million in future.

The expansion project enables the airport to increase its passenger handling capacity to more than 63 million passengers and cargo handling capacity to 750,000t by 2030.


The airport currently features a single runway (Runway 07/25), which has a length of 3,600m and a width of 45m, as well as offers a load-bearing capacity of 74t.

Two new runways will be constructed as part of the expansion project. The second and the third runway will have a length of 3,600m and 3,200m respectively, while the width will be 60m for both.

Financing and contractors

Funded by the Chinese Government, the expansion project is estimated to be carried out with an investment of RMB42.1bn ($6.1bn).

The airport authorities contracted ECADI and NACO for the design and construction of the North Terminal. The terminal design phase was completed by the companies in 2016.

Urumqi Diwopu Airport’s history and terminal details

The airport started international operations in 1973 and was initially used for the landing of emergency aircraft flying from Europe to West Asia. It is spread across an area of 1,200 acres.

The airport currently features three terminal buildings and a single runway. Terminal 1 is the oldest among the existing terminals and primarily used for provincial operations within China. It is a base for low-cost airlines and freight carriers.

Operational since 2002, Terminal 2 is a three-tier building mainly used for domestic operations. The flights operating from the terminal are dedicated to Air China. The first floor of the building is used for domestic arrivals, whereas the third floor is used for the departure of domestic passengers.

The second floor of the building houses commercial space, amenities, and other service facilities. A first-class lounge is also located on the third floor, which can be accessed using a priority pass.

Located towards the west end of Terminal 1, the Terminal 3 made its service entry in 2010. Terminal 3 is primarily dedicated for international operations, but also manages the operations of certain domestic airlines.

The first and second floors of the terminal building support passenger enplanement and deplanements, while the third floor offers passenger rest areas.

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