On August 12, 2021, China launched Jiaodong International Airport (TAO) in Qingdao, Shandong province. The brand-new airport smoothly replaced the former Qingdao Liuting International Airport, which has served the city for 39 years.

Now the freshly built infrastructure has become the largest airport in the East China region and is expected to handle around 35 million passengers annually. 

AeroTime investigates which airlines will operate from China’s latest international airport, whose construction costs stood at $5.5 billion.

Qingdao Jiaodong International Airport stands out from other airports in Shandong province for having two runways, both of them reaching a length of 3,600 meters. Thus, it was ranked as the highest class, 4F class, for an airport capable of handling the takeoffs and landings of various large aircraft, such as the Airbus A380 wide-body jet, or even the An-225 Mriya. According to China Daily, as of March 2021, there were 18 4F-level airports in the country. As for the inside, the area of the terminal building reaches 478,000 square meters and is twice the size of London Heathrow Airport (LHR). 

Jiaodong airport is the third international airport across China built in recent years, after Beijing Daxing (PKX), which was launched in September 2019, and Chengdu Tianfu (TFU), which was opened for operations in June 2021. The local government said that the airline must reach a total of 130 international and domestic destinations, while served by a list of various Chinese and foreign airlines. Another target the government aims to reach is to transport a total of 500,000 tonnes of freight and handle 300,000 aircraft take-offs and landings by 2025.

Such a list includes 37 commercial airlines for passenger operations, as well as three cargo air carriers. The largest airlines which showed their willingness to conduct passenger flights from Jiaodong airport include Air China, Beijing Capital, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines (CIAH) (CEA), Hainan Airlines, Asiana, All Nippon Airways (ANA), Korean Air, Shanghai Airlines, Vietjet Air, Spring Airlines, XiamenAir as well as the German flag carrier Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA). As for cargo operations, All Nippon Airways cargo arm ANA Cargo is eager to serve the route between Qingdao and Naha, Japan, while South Korean cargo airline Air Incheon is ready to operate cargo flights to Seoul. Meanwhile, China Southern Airlines Cargo, the cargo subsidiary of China Southern Airlines (ZNH), is about to start freight operations to Los Angeles, United States.

The Chinese air carrier Shandong Airlines was the first to make its maiden takeoff from the freshly laid runway of Jiaodong airport for the domestic flight SC4651 to Beijing, operated by a Boeing 737-800 narrow-body jet on August 12, 2021. Later the same day, China Eastern Airlines (CIAH) (CEA) became the first air carrier to land its Airbus A320 aircraft at Jiaodong, which arrived from Hangzhou, China on flight MU5671.

The construction work of Jiaodong International Airport started in April 2017. In addition to the large terminal building, the project included the establishment of a connectivity system, including a subway and a high-speed rail.