updated 11/2/2007 1:59:49 PM ET 2007-11-02T17:59:49

Surveyors are looking at sites southwest of Beijing for a second international airport to relieve the main hub that is fast being overwhelmed by traffic, state media reported Friday.

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Industry regulator CAAC has submitted its recommendations on the new facility to the National Development and Reform Commission, the Cabinet-level body charged with approving major projects, the Xinhua News Agency said.

Citing an earlier report in the ruling Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily, Xinhua said a location along the Yongding river that forms the border between Beijing and neighboring Hebei province was favored because that would offer the city major airports on three of its four compass points.

Beijing is currently served by Beijing Capital International Airport to the northeast, and Binhai Airport in the city of Tianjin to the southeast.

Air traffic, geographic conditions and ground transport were used as criteria for the proposed site, the report said.

Beijing airport's two terminals are already groaning under the strain of massive passenger and cargo growth, and a third terminal is on schedule to be opened by year-end.

The third terminal, a centerpiece project for next summer's Beijing Olympic Games, has a runway capable of handling Airbus' huge A380 superjumbo and is designed to accommodate the city's rapid growth for the next seven years.

Passengers using the current airport have increased more than 20 percent annually, to 48.6 million last year, from 21.7 million in 2000, during which the airport has risen from 42nd to ninth-busiest by passenger numbers, according to its owners.

When the new terminal is fully operating, the airport will be able to handle 62 million passengers, a limit expected to be reached in 2015.

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