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Beijing Airport: $3.75 Billion for Smoother Skies

Even before the Olympics came to Beijing, mainland airports were congested and inefficient. A new terminal and regulation may help

This summer, an estimated 6.4 million people are expected to arrive in Beijing for the Olympic Games. The Chinese government has spent the last several years investing in airport expansion, restricting flights, and negotiating with the military to ensure tourists will not start their trip with flight delays and cancellations.

But it hasn't been an easy task. Beijing Capital International Airport has been bursting at the seams, barely able to keep up with the explosion of air travel in China since the airline industry was deregulated in the 1980s. To win market share in China's fiercely competitive aviation industry (BusinessWeek.com 1/15/08), airlines have been overbooking flights to Beijing and Shanghai's congested airports, which has resulted in flight delays and cancellations. Last year, 86% of the flights into and out of Beijing's airport took off on time, putting it only in the middle of the pack compared with other major international airports, according to the airport.