The long-awaited Chengdu Tianfu International Airport has officially opened, providing passengers with a new gateway to the home of giant pandas. Sichuan Airlines’ inaugural flight, bound for Beijing, took off at 11:10 a.m. on June 27, 2021. Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, has become the country’s third city with two international airports, after Shanghai and Beijing. The China Southwest Architectural Design and Research Institute, China Airport Construction Group Corporation, and French architectural firm ADP Ingenierie collaborated on the new Chengdu Tianfu International Airport.

Phase one of the vast aviation hub, which costs around 70 billion Chinese yuan ($10.8 billion), can accommodate up to 60 million passengers per year, substantially opening up the country’s southwest region. Phase one took five years to build and includes facial recognition software, self-check-in kiosks, smart security systems, self-boarding gates, and artificial intelligence robot concierges, among other cutting-edge technologies. There are three runways and two terminals in operation, covering a total area of 710,000 square meters. According to Xinhua, the airport will eventually have terminals measuring 1.4 million square meters, with a capacity of 120 million passengers per year. “The new airport in Chengdu was needed to accommodate continued rapid growth,” announced aviation analyst Brendan Sobie. “China’s domestic market has already fully recovered from the pandemic and will continue to grow rapidly. Given the size of the city and its central location in China, Chengdu is very well-positioned to benefit.”