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Hongqiao has terminal troubles

2010. 17 March

by Zha Minjie
( Thousands of passengers went to wrong departure points yesterday at Shanghai's Hongqiao International Airport when a second terminal made its debut.

They had to travel about 15 minutes between the two terminal buildings via free shuttle buses and some of them missed flights as a result.

Despite this, Shanghai's newest terminal, all 360,000 square meters of it, had a mostly smooth opening yesterday, airport officials said.

Jani Hamalainen, general manager of a textiles company, said: "Now it's more like an international airport." He caught a flight to Beijing yesterday at 8am.

However, seven passengers who missed their flight to southwest China's Sichuan Province at 6:20am were not amused.

Up to 90 percent of carriers have switched to the new Terminal 2.

More than 450 flights took off or landed at the new terminal yesterday.

More than 2,000 people, about 10 percent of total passengers whose flights left from the new terminal as at 6pm, went to the wrong departure points, the Shanghai Airport Authority said.

The number of passengers who missed planes accounted for about 8 percent of the total, up from the normal 1 percent, according to the airport operator.

Others who took the shuttle buses were airport and airline staff or passengers who were unfamiliar with the routes to the new terminal.

"I was afraid of getting lost driving on all those new roads nearby," said passenger Li Chenyuan who left his car at Terminal 1 where he boarded a shuttle bus. "It's easy and convenient."

Elevated roads nearby suffered from traffic congestion, as drivers were unfamiliar with the new roads.

Many complained about a lack of clear road signs.

City traffic police said the main congestion happened after more than half of drivers chose to go via the G50 expressway, (the original A9), a relatively familiar route from the south.

Officers suggested drivers should go to the terminal via elevated roads in the north which were clear of jams yesterday.

Xu Jianming, a cabbie from Dazhong Taxi Co, said he was stuck for about half an hour yesterday about 8am when he took a passenger to the new terminal.

For subway commuters, however, the trip to the new terminal was plain sailing.

Metro Line 2, which opened its eastern extension to the terminal yesterday, handled more than 8,700 passengers by 5pm with no problems.