Beijing Capital International is poised to overtake Heathrow as the world’s second busiest airport.
In the first two months of the year it handled more passengers than Heathrow - 5.3 million in February and 5.4 million in January, compared to 4.8 million and 4.6 million respectively at Heathrow.
Last year, Beijing handled only 500,000 fewer passengers behind Heathrow at 65.4 million people, making it the third-busiest airport in the world.
Atlanta, a hub for USA traffic, remains the world’s busiest airport.
Only a decade ago, Beijing did not appear in a list of the world’s 30 busiest airports. But a massive rise in domestic travel has led to a surge in passenger numbers at Beijing.
The airport has also benefited from a huge new terminal, which opened just before the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. The $3.5 billion Terminal 3 was designed by Norman Foster and is reputed to be the world’s third-largest building.
Heathrow’s Terminal 5, which opened in 2008, has increased its capacity significantly but the airport’s BAA has argued that to meet growing demand and compete with other international airports it needs a third runway.