Guangzhou • south China’s commercial capital ….
Heading to a trade show in China? Then Guangzhou could well be your final destination***Guangzhou is one of China’s most important cities – but might easily be one you have never heard of. It is the PRC’s third largest city after Shanghai and Beijing but, including its sprawling conurbations, its extended population is reputed to be around 24 million – bigger that any other except Tokyo.
Formerly called Canton this southern Chinese metropolis on the Pearl River is a centre for commerce and manufacturing. As such it is a magnet for business travellers – especially from within China – and as a result its airport, Baiyun International in Huadu District, is the second busiest in the PRC behind Beijing with more than 40 million passengers processed in 2010, the year in which Guangzhou hosted the Asian Games.
The airport is quite new, having opened in 2004 to replace an older gateway that was too close to the city to be enlarged in order to meet the pace of growth. The two-runway airport has 24-hour operation because it is far enough away from the city, at around 30km, and built up suburban areas. Three more runways are possible in the future and there is every chance that this hub, which is only around 120km north-west of Hong Kong International, might begin to rival it for global routes once its facilities are also improved.
Baiyun International, which still has the three letter code of CAN (after the city’s old name) has a fair selection of shopping, and international brands, which the Chinese crave, are present in abundance at the airport’s single terminal. Some fashion labels even have their own freestanding boutiques including Bally, Dunhill, Furla, Salvatore Ferragamo, Shanghai Tang and Tumi.
In addition, there is a large watches and jewellery store featuring luxury marques, plus a multi-branded fashion and accessories shop and an extensive fragrances and cosmetics area where the most popular high-end beauty brands such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Lancôme, La Prairie, Estée Lauder plus Clinique and Biotherm, have strong positions. All these stores are operated by the state-owned China Duty Free Group which runs the vast majority of retail facilities at airports across the PRC. There is also a range of souvenir stores plus high street fashion and accessories units such as Samuel & Kevin.Another terminal is planned, in order to take the airport’s capacity up to 75 million passengers. At 531,000 square metres, the new building plus two car parks and a transportation centre are expected to offer a much wider retail footprint when they are completed by the end of 2015. Meanwhile construction of a third runway has been approved by the National Development and Reform Commission of China and is slated to start in 2011 and be finished by the first half of 2013.Airport fact file
- Passenger traffic 2010: approx 41.0 million
- Airlines: Almost 50, of which the biggest (by number of routes) are China Southern, China Eastern, Shenzen Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Air China.
- Worth knowing: If you are flying through the airport in winter, have warm clothing at the ready. Many passengers report that the terminal is not exactly state of the art when it comes to its heating system. And leave plenty of time of you are transferring there as security queues have also come in for some criticism.
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