Chengdu Tianfu International Airport has officially commenced operations

China’s much-anticipated Chengdu Tianfu International Airport has officially commenced operations, opening a new gateway to the greater Sichuan Province and currently capable of handling 60 million passengers annually, Tianfu is also set to double capacity in due course.

Its inaugural flight, operated by Sichuan Airlines, took off at 11:10 a.m. on Sunday, bound for Beijing.

Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, is now the third city in the country to have two international airports, joining Shanghai and Beijing.

Phase One, encompassing three runways and two terminals, has been constructed at a cost of approximately 70 billion yuan ($10.8 billion). Upon completion of Phase Two, Tianfu Airport will have 6 runways and house terminals taking up 1.26 million square meters and has the capacity to handle up to 60 million passengers per year, further opening up the country’s southwest region.

The three runways and two terminals, cover a total area of 710,000 square meters, are in operation. State media outlet Xinhua reported the airport will eventually house terminals covering 1.4 million square meters, capable of handling 120 million passengers annually.

According to state media Chengdu Tianfu Airport was designed by a joint Chinese-French architectural consortium,. Construction of Phase One has taken five years, implementing ‘cutting-edge’ technologies including AI (such as robot airport staff), facial recognition and automated check-in. A new metro line links Tianfu to central Chengdu, with the high-speed train taking around 40 minutes.

Due to the COVID pandemic, the new airport will only be catering to domestic travellers as China remains closed to most international travellers.