British Airways has become the first international airline to confirm that it will move all its operations to Beijing’s spectacular new Daxing airport.
The UK carrier announced Wednesday that it will move all direct flights to and from Heathrow to the new airport from October 27.
Beijing Daxing International Airport is due to open in September and initially sports four runways and a terminal building with plans for an additional terminal and three more runways.
BA says the move will help it strengthen and develop its network through its codeshare agreement with China Southern, which will also be based at the airport.
The two carriers launched a codeshare agreement across 10 routes in 2017 and earlier this year signed a memorandum of understanding to expand the agreement.
The London Beijing routes will continue as a daily service operated by a Boeing 787-9 in winter and a Boeing 777-300 in summer.
Some foreign airlines, including LOT Polish Airlines and Finnair, have indicated they will move some of their flights to Daxing but overseas carriers have the option of operating from Daxing or Beijing Capital International Airport.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China is holding out a carrot of better slots for those that make the move.
The new airport will include more than 300 shops and restaurants and eligible BA customers will get access to a new partner lounge.
BA says customers transferring to other flights will also benefit from Daxing’s status as the only through check-in airport for foreign airlines in China.
“Not only will the new airport offer our customers flying to and from Beijing a world-class experience, with state-of-the-art facilities including an improved lounge for our Club World and First customers; but it will also support our ambition to increase leisure and business travel between China and the UK,” BA executive vice president Greater China and the Philippines Noella Ferns said.
Daxing is approximately 50km from both Beijing city center and the Xiong’an New Area and only 80km from Tianjin.
Transport connections to and from Beijing Daxing include four new highways, two new subway lines and a high-speed railway, which will carry customers to Beijing West Station in under 20 minutes.
A new terminal station is set to open in the Lize Business District in the next few years.
Separately, British Airways also unveiled its renovated San Francisco Lounge, the third in the US to be upgraded under the airline’s £6.5 billion five-year investment plan.
The lounge is spread across 665 square metres with floor to ceiling glass windows with expansive views of the runway.
Zones throughout the lounge include a center-piece granite feature bar and a new study area with wireless printing facilities.
There is also a deli bar where customers can help themselves to a wide range of food and drink options and first-class travelers can avail themselves of a new exclusive Boutique Dining room that features fine wines and menus inspired by some of the world’s top chefs.
This is the fifth lounge to open under the new design concept after the airlines Club and First lounges in New York’s JFK, Rome in Italy and Aberdeen in Scotland.
The British Airways lounge in Johannesburg will be next, with further investment planned in Geneva, Chicago and at the airline’s hub, London Heathrow.