Shanghai's two airports have been overburdened with huge turnovers of passengers and cargo that requires facilities upgraded and even a third airport, according to a senior official with the civil aviation regulator.
The new supportive airport should be built to work with the existing Pudong and Hongqiao international airports with more airspace released, said Jiang Huaiyu, director with the East China Regional Administration of the Civil Aviation Administration of China.
The city's two airports received 110 million passengers last year to become the world's fifth busiest air hub after London, New York, Tokyo and Atlanta. Both airports handled over 4 million tons of cargo last year, ranking the world's third after Hong Kong and Memphis, Jiang said.
"However, both passenger and cargo turnover have far exceeded the airports' capacity, while the amounts are still increasing," Jiang said.
A series of expansion works have been carried out, including renovation of the east part of Hongqiao airport and the construction of the world's largest satellite terminal building at the Pudong airport.
Li Derun, president of the airport authority, has said the city's two airports will be able to handle 120 million passengers and 5.2 million tons of cargo a year by 2020.
But Jiang said a better solution should be to plan a third airport as well as a specialized airport for general aviation, or business and private jets. Currently, business jets share runways and other resources with commercial flights at Pudong and Hongqiao.
Meanwhile, the Pudong airport should be connected with the railway system of the Yangtze Delta Region and a fast transport system should be developed quickly for a more convenient transition between Pudong and Hongqiao airports, he said.
More airspace should be opened for the Yangtze Delta Region, he added. The administration has opened 12 new flying routes and 10 waiting airspace for commercial jets since last November in a trial operation, which has largely improved the punctuality at the both airports, Jiang said.
Additional runways should also be built to improve design defects at both airports that aircraft have to taxi for long way to take off or after landing, he said. About 76,652 kilograms of fuel is consumed if aircraft taxied for every additional minute at both airports, Jiang said.
"That means some 76,600 tons of fuel can be saved every year if the aircraft can taxi by five minutes shorter at both airports," he added.