(CNN) — With Beijing’s new world-beating airport set to open this year, it adds to the list of megahubs in the region already vying for passengers and airlines while innovating along the way.
Three of the top 10 busiest airports in the world are in Greater China, where aviation is taking off dramatically. The country is building eight new airports per year, and aims to open 216 by 2035.
Asia’s mega hubs are capable of handling tens or hundreds of millions of passengers, and new facilities and amenities leave the dated airports of much of the rest of the world far behind — places where fliers are treated to some of the most incredible pieces of architecture and experience features rarely associated with air travel.
Beijing Capital International Airport
A rendering of Beijing’s Daxing Airport, due to open later this year.
Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects
2018: 100,983,290 passengers
World rank: 2
The reason Beijing is opening a new airport this year is obvious when you look at its existing Capital Airport.
Now the busiest airport in Asia and the second-busiest in the world after Atlanta-Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in the US, this sprawling, world-leading facility handled over 100 million passengers in 2018.
When the new Daxing Airport opens, Beijing Capital will not close.
Instead it will continue to handle airlines like Air China and Hainan Airlines, giving the city an extra boost of capacity as the number of air travelers shows no sign of abating.
Tokyo Haneda Airport
Tokyo Haneda is the world’s most punctual mega airport.
TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP/Getty Images
2018: 87,131,973 passengers
World rank: 5
Probably one of the only airports that ever has a chance of taking Singapore’s crown as passenger favorite is Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, the world’s fifth busiest airport.
Whilst it doesn’t have Singapore’s amenities, and isn’t quite as modern as Seoul Incheon, it’s a master of Japanese efficiency and closer to the city than the alternative Narita airport.
It often tops the global rankings as a clean, customer-focused facility.
Hong Kong International Airport
Passengers departing Chek Lap Kok.
Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images
2018: 74,517,402 passengers
World rank: 8
When officials decided that Hong Kong’s original airport would close in 1998, there was little doubt that its replacement would need room to grow.
The new site, known as Chek Lap Kok, has become the eighth busiest airport in the world, and the world’s busiest cargo airport.
Home to Cathay Pacific and many more airlines, the airport is built entirely on the leveled Chek Lap Kok Island with extensive reclamation on the north coast of Lantau Island and reclaimed land in the Zhujiang Pearl River estuary.
Shanghai Pudong International Airport
An aerial shot of Terminal 2 at Shanghai Pudong International Airport.
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
2018: 74,006,331 passengers
World rank: 9
Shanghai Pudong is the main international airport for the city and, aside from passengers, is the world’s third busiest cargo airport.
Surprisingly, Pudong only opened in 1999 and has already been expanded to include the world’s largest satellite terminal.
It can now handle up to 80 million passengers per year, but will no doubt reach that in no time and have to expand further.
Currently, it’s the world’s ninth busiest airport.
That being said, the passenger experience can leave a lot to be desired, with multiple visa, passport, baggage checks and “Foreign Fingerprint Control Centers” to contend with.
Delhi Indira Gandhi International
Indira Gandhi International Airport’s new Terminal 3.
Courtesy David Brossard/Creative Commons/Flickr
World rank: 12
According to the ACI report, in 2018 India became the world’s third-largest aviation market, overtaking Japan.
The busiest airport in India and 12th in the world is Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International — a hub for many of the nation’s airlines like Air India, IndiGo and SpiceJet.
In a country that plans to build many new airports to serve its remote regions, Delhi is planning for the future with a fourth runway and three more passenger terminals all in the pipeline to handle growth.
The airport recently won the Best Airport award from Airports Council International in its Airport Service Quality Awards (jointly with Mumbai Airport).
Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport
An aerial view of Baiyun International Airport in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.
2018: 69,769,497 passengers
World rank: 13
China’s aviation industry is growing across the board. The country plans to build hundreds of new airports over the coming decades, and more of its larger airports are already the busiest in the region.
Among these is Guangzhou Biayun airport. Serving China’s southeast Guangdong province and its huge population, it’s now the third busiest airport in the country and the 13th busiest in the world.
Despite the airport only opening in 2004, it has already completed an expansion phase by opening a huge new terminal in April 2018, which takes the total capacity up to 80 million passengers per year.
Incheon International Airport
The departure area at Terminal 2 of Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul.
JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
2018: 68,350,784 passengers
World rank: 16
One of the world’s most modern airports, Seoul’s Incheon International Airport is the main gateway to a country where air travel is growing fast and technology leads the way.
For an airport handling almost 70 million passengers per year, you’ll find there’s plenty of room and bright open spaces.
Its latest addition, the modern Terminal 2, opened in early 2018.
As well as adding much-needed capacity to the country’s main international gateway, developers designed the building around passenger needs by focusing on technology.
Friendly robots guide passengers to their gates and give helpful updates on your flight status. Other machines glide around, keeping the terminal clean.
The centerpiece of the terminal is the Great Hall, which covers four stories. Decorated heavily in granite and wood, it features artworks by local artists.
Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport
Terminal 3 of the Soekarno-Hatta airport in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, opened in 2017.
ADEK BERRY/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
2018: 66,908,159 passengers
World rank: 18
Using Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport could see you passing through the crowded domestic Terminal 1, the ultra-modern new Terminal 3, or the unique Terminal 2 with its unusual design reflecting tropical gardens and traditional pavilions.
Either way, you’ll be one of more than 66 million passengers using the airport, which serves the capital of a country made up of thousands of islands, where air travel is essential for getting around.
Indonesia’s airport operators are planning to build a third airport for the city soon, with the director stating: “The new airport will be a masterpiece of the country.”
Changi Airport Singapore
World rank: 19
Changi Airport Singapore has long been a favorite among passengers and airlines. In 2019 — and for the seventh time in a row — it was crowned the world’s best aviation hub.
Stepping through its four terminals is an experience unlike any other. Passengers simply love it.
Its latest addition, the Changi Airport Jewel complex has just opened, adding to the airport’s vast list of amenities and facilities. This new multi-use facility links three of four terminals and includes a hotel, over 280 retail and dining spaces, gardens and the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.