People in Chaozhou (潮州), Shantou (汕头) and Jieyang (揭阳) welcomed their new airport when the Jieyang Chaoshan Airport (揭阳潮汕机场)opened on Dec. 15 in East Guangdong's town of Jieyang.
It used to be only a small airport in Shantou connecting the vast eastern part of the province with the world. The 38-year-old Shantou Airport had to share its runway with the local air force, allowing only some 40 flights to take off and land every day. The limited space of the airport had strangled the development of Shantou, as one of the special economic zones of the province, and the robustly growing cities nearby.
In two years a modern airport has risen out of the land that once grew high quality Chinese broccoli (Kai-lan, 芥兰). The airport is located centrally between the major cities of the East Guangdong, about 20 km between the city center of Chaozhou, Shantou and Jieyang.
On the evening of Dec. 14, the last night of the old Shantou Airport, the arrival of a flight from Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (广西南宁) at 11:55 p.m. marked the full stop of the old airport's history. Subsequently, all the vehicles, equipment, and six empty planes had been transported to the new airport overnight.
Thousands of people came to the new airport the next day; some of them were passengers, and some of them came to see the new airport as a gigantic glass-and-steel building among the jungle of small concrete houses. Many visitors crowded at the entrance where they could see the planes on the runways to cheer for the successful take-off and landing of the planes.
The new 55,000 sq. m airport terminal doubles the size of the old one. The large glass covers both sides of the terminal making the lighting comfortable, while still allowing for the conservation of energy. There are direction signs in both Chinese and English, and a public address system that announces in Putonghua, Chaozhou dialect and English to communicate with passengers from all across the world. There are 28 check-in counters for domestic flights and 11 for international flights. Passengers can also use 16 self-check-in machines to help check-in quicker.
A Spanish businessman Jose said the light was comfortable in the airport, and the facilities were new and in good condition. And he also hoped the airport "can keep it this way for a long, long time."
One thing differentiating the Chaoshan Airport with others is its open-air garden located inside the terminal. The triangular space with tall trees and flowers provides the passengers with a place to take a breath in the long boring time of waiting to board.
The new airport is currently running the original winter flight schedule without more flights, but benefits have already emerged as the ticket prices lowered. It is expected that in 2015 there will be 49 domestic air lines and 16 internationals operating in the new airport.
(By Lynus Tan and Stephen Roberts)