BEIJING (AFP) - Chinese leaders have given final approval for a long-awaited new US$11.2 billion (S$13.8 billion) international airport in Beijing to ease crushing congestion at the existing facility, state media said on Monday.
The state-run China Daily newspaper reported the decision, made on Sunday, citing a spokesman for the country's State Council, or cabinet.
The existing international airport, which saw a major expansion in the run-up to the 2008 Olympics, is the world's second-busiest, reflecting China's relentless economic rise.
The new airport is likely to be in the south of the sprawling capital but other details including a start date for construction and its design were still being decided, the China Daily said, quoting spokesman Mr Li Shengbo.
The newspaper also reported, citing CAAC News - a paper affiliated with the country's aviation administration - that large-scale construction would begin next year, with the airport due to open by the end of 2018.
CAAC News, quoting an aviation administration official, said the new airport would cost at least 70 billion yuan (S$13.8 billion) with six runways for civilian aircraft and a seventh for military use.
Beijing Capital International Airport, in the north of the city, has been ranked as the world's second biggest airport for three years, the China Daily said, handling 81.8 million passenger movements in 2012.
It ranks second globally behind Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta in the United States.
A new airport would put Beijing alongside the likes of New York, London, Paris and Tokyo as cities with more than one major facility.
Passengers in Beijing have long complained of delays, with another complicating factor being airspace distribution between civil and military flights.