HAIKOU, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- The expansion project of Haikou Meilan International Airport in south China's resort island of Hainan went into operation Thursday, offering a massive boost to the construction of the Hainan free trade port (FTP).
The project consists of a new terminal, a 3,600-meter-long runway, and ground transport facilities. The new runway can handle the Airbus A380, so far the world's largest passenger airliner.
Covering 300,000 square meters, the new Terminal 2 is the size of 42 standard soccer fields and about twice the size of Terminal 1. It has 110 check-in counters and a considerable number of duty-free shops spanning nearly 10,000 square meters.
A total of 41 self-service check-in devices and ten self-service baggage checking devices will also make check-in more efficient and intelligent for passengers.
It features a tropical island theme and traditional local cultural elements such as arcade houses and local ethnic Li brocade, promising a unique travel experience.
Zhao Ziyu, a passenger from Shenzhen, said the newly-built airport was spacious and bright, with a sense of science and technology in the design.
"There are lots of green plants in the terminal, just like a garden, which offers tourists a good experience," said Zhao, adding that it's convenient for shopping with its many duty-free shops.
For an island province, air transportation is the most efficient way to link Hainan with the world. With the deepening of Hainan FTP construction and the rapid growth of civil aviation demand, Meilan airport's passenger and cargo throughput capacity has become saturated. The expansion project undertakes the mission of upgrading Hainan's civil aviation.
With the expansion, the airport can now handle an annual passenger throughput of 35 million and a cargo throughput of 400,000 tonnes in 2025. It would help connect Hainan with the world and help it become an aviation hub facing the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean.
Feng Fei, governor of Hainan Province, said this project, a major landmark project for FTP construction, will drive the rapid development of Hainan's airport industry.
"It will also help Hainan to further play an integral role in the 'duel circulation,' create more favorable conditions for Hainan to serve and integrate into the new development pattern, and promote the high-quality development of the province," Feng said.
On June 1 last year, Chinese authorities released a master plan for the Hainan free trade port. It aims to build the southern island province into a globally-influential high-level free trade port by the middle of the century.