China Eastern LCC â€‹China United Airlines will be the sole commercial aircraft operator at Beijing Daxing International Airport for the first few weeks after the opening of the facility, which is scheduled for the end of September.

Flights by other airlines at Daxing International will begin in late October as they introduce winter schedules, China United deputy president Sun Li told reporters.

In all, 16 airlines will fly from the airport during the winter schedule period, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said. Its figures for the number of routes opened in that time suggest that operations will step up slowly.

On Sept. 9, CAAC airport division chief Liu Chunchen said the airport would be ready for operations Sept. 15.

The construction schedule has long aimed for completing the airport by Sept. 30, the day before the 70th anniversary of communist leader Mao Zedong’s 1949 declaration of the creation of the People’s Republic of China.

Since national leaders are expected to be occupied with anniversary preparations immediately before Oct. 1, and since a late opening would be considered an embarrassment, China United is likely to begin flying from Daxing in less than two weeks.

During the period of its exclusive use of Daxing, each day China United will each day operate 140 flights serving 80 routes and carrying 20,000 people, Sun said.

The 15 other airlines will bring the total number of routes from Daxing to only 116 during the winter schedule period, according to CAAC figures. Some additional carriers are expected to fly on many of China United’s 80 routes as competitors, in addition to opening 36 separate routes. There will be 101 domestic and 15 international routes opened from Daxing in the winter schedule period, the CAAC said.

Of the 16 airlines, eight are Chinese mainland operators: Air China, HNA Group subsidiary Capital Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, cargo carrier China Postal Airlines, China Southern Airlines, China United, Hebei Airlines and Juneyao Airlines.

The eight foreign carriers are British Airways, Finnair, Russian charter carrier I-Fly Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Royal Air Maroc Airlines, Royal Brunei Airlines and Somali Airlines.

China United’s services will be moved from its current base Beijing Nanyuan Airport, which will close to civil users when Daxing International opens. The airline is planning to move its staff and aircraft in one go overnight, rather than shifting between the airports in phases.

Nanyuan Airport is a small facility, mainly a military base, directly north of Daxing International and under approach and departure paths of the new airport.

Beijing’s main airport, Beijing Capital International, is operating beyond its design capacity.

Bradley Perrett, perrett@aviationweek.com