China United Airlines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Eastern Airlines, announced on Friday it will transfer operations to Beijing Daxing International Airport ahead of the airport's official opening, which is expected to be no later than Sept 30.
The move will make China United Airlines the first to fully move into the new airport from its old headquarters at Beijing Nanyuan Airport, and thus the first carrier to fly its aircraft at the new airport.
"Though the exact date of the new airport's opening is still not disclosed, we have been poised for the transfer to Beijing Daxing International Airport," said Liu Beige, vice-president of China United Airlines, at a news conference in Beijing on Friday.
"All of our staff and aircraft, including more than 4,000 employees and over 60 airplanes, will be moved to the new airport within a short period, estimated to last only one day, ahead of the official launch day of the new airport," Liu added.
With China United Airlines' move already scheduled, Beijing Nanyuan Airport, the carrier's headquarters since 1986, will close after the transfer is completed.
"Tickets sold in advance for flights departing from Nanyuan Airport and with flight dates after the transfer will be accommodated. We will try our best to deal with any delays," Liu said.
According to China Eastern Airlines, the subsidiary's transfer is part of its plan to shift focus to the new airport to achieve business expansion with more air routes.
"China Eastern Airlines will transfer 10 percent of its flights from Beijing Capital International Airport to Beijing Daxing International Airport before the summer flying season of 2020," said Zeng Yongchao, China Eastern Airlines' executive deputy managing director of marketing and sales. "By the summer flying season of 2020, apart from 46 daily flights between Beijing and Shanghai, all other flights, accounting for 80 percent of our total in Beijing, will be moved to the new airport."
"By the summer of the next year, China Eastern Airlines and its subsidiaries are expected to have more than 334 daily flights at the new airport, with 150 routes connected to 115 destinations across the globe," Zeng added.
"We will open more routes connecting major markets around the globe, especially those participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, and help build Beijing Daxing International Airport into a top international airport in our nation," Zeng said.
China Eastern Airlines has built its new Beijing headquarters near the new airport to better support its business in the city.
According to the carrier, the project, which cost about 13.2 billion yuan ($1.92 billion) and has a construction area of 1.17 million square meters, will mainly be used to provide services for flights, including scheduling, aircraft maintenance and ground services. The airline announced on Friday that the first phase of the project was completed.