Shanghai Prepares for Expo 2010 by Opening New Airport Terminal

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Shanghai's Hongqiao Airport opened a new terminal today as part of a major overhaul intended to ready the city for the Expo 2010, a 6-month event in the tradition of world fairs that will kick off on May 1st.

The renovated terminal -- which spans four levels, making it four times larger than the old facility -- welcomed its first flight early Tuesday morning, according to a report by the Agence France-Presse.

Hongqiao received 2.2 billion dollars of government money to prepare itself for the coming World Expo. Over 70 million visitors are predicted to attend the 6-month event, with a majority of the visitors expected to visit from within China.

While Pudong Airport is Shanghai's main airport for international flights, Hongqiao caters largely to domestic flights. Previously the airport could handle only 9.6 million passengers a year, and struggled to accommodate 25 million visitors in 2009. Thanks to the new expanded terminal, the airport expects to service 40 million passengers each year by 2015, with 75% of visitors passing through the new expanded space.

"An airport with the size of a world-class hub has taken shape, which will provide a high-quality aviation service for the World Expo," an airport representative said in an official statement.

The airport also welcomed a direct metro line today, linking the facility to Shanghai's city-center, which lies 35 minutes west, according to the AFP. Trains from Nanjing are expected to start arriving at the airport beginning July 1st, and trains from Beijing are scheduled to begin service next year.

Hongqiao is also expecting a second runway, another project resulting from the approximately 58 billion dollars invested in readying the country for the Expo, which has a theme of "Better City, Better Life." Nearly three-quarters of that money has been invested in expanding the city's subway system, according to the AFP.
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