China Eastern Airlines chairman Liu Shaoyong has requested Beijing New Airport be given priority when distributing international slots to open routes to developed countries, optimize domestic business trunk routes and encourage major carriers based there to allocate more capacity.

Liu made the plea before the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference held last week.

The new airport, located in Daxing, is expected to open in 2019.

As a SkyTeam member, the Shanghai-based carrier has been assigned to move to the new airport, which it plans to designate as a core strategic hub for the highly profitable Beijing-Shanghai route.

China Eastern previously said it plans to allocate 150-200 aircraft to the new airport, which would operate on domestic Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan routes as well as international routes to America, Europe, Australia, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia.

China Eastern currently has no direct intercontinental long-haul service from Beijing.

Liu admitted that China Eastern, as well as other major carriers planning to use the airport as a main operating base, will face operational pressure.

The new airport is projected to handle 45 million passengers in 2020, 72 million in 2025 and 100 million in the longer term. Ten Chinese carriers are committed to move to Beijing New Airport. China Southern Airlines also plans to assign 250 aircraft to the new airport by 2025.

Beijing-based Air China and other Star Alliance members—as well as Hainan Airlines—are expected to remain at Beijing Capital Airport, which has a slot shortage.