BEIJING: Chinese leaders have given final approval for a long-awaited new $11.2 billion international airport in Beijing to ease crushing congestion at the existing facility, official media said on Monday.
The huge new airport south of the capital will have six runways for civilian aircraft and a seventh for military use, the China Daily said, citing CAAC News, a paper linked to the country's civil aviation administration.
Beijing Capital International Airport, north of the city, has been ranked as the world's second busiest airport for three years, handling 81.8 million passenger movements in 2012, the China Daily noted.
"The plan for a new airport has been approved by the State Council (China's cabinet)," it quoted a Beijing aviation spokesman as saying. No official confirmation was immediately available.
Reports said the new airport was scheduled to open by the end of 2018 and have a capacity of 70 million passengers a year by 2025.
It will cost at least 70 billion yuan ($11.2 billion), CAAC News reported, adding that the proposal was made as long ago as 2008 but not approved by the Central Military Commission until the end of last year.
The military enjoys priority over China's airspace, which has worsened congestion for civilian flights forced to ply narrow air corridors.
Beijing Capital -- the world's second busiest airport after Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta -- saw a major expansion in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, reflecting China's relentless economic rise, but passengers have long complained of delays.
A new airport would put Beijing alongside the likes of New York, London, Paris and Tokyo as cities with more than one major facility.