updated 3/25/2008 3:04:15 PM ET 2008-03-25T19:04:15

Shanghai's Pudong International Airport is opening a new terminal and cargo facility aimed at making China's commercial center and biggest city the cargo hub of Asia by 2010.

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The terminal, to be inaugurated Wednesday, will more than double the number of passengers the airport is equipped to handle to 60 million a year from the current 28 million, airport authorities say.

And the cargo handling capacity at Pudong, located near the seaside in Shanghai's new financial district, will rise by 1.2 million tons per year to 3.7 million tons per year.

The 480,000-square-meter (5.2 million-square-feet, or about the size of 96 soccer fields) new terminal, said to be modeled on a seagull design, comes amid a boom in airport construction in China. Nearly 100 new airports are due to be built by 2020, according to a plan by the General Administration of Civil Aviation. China had 147 airports as of 2006, the China Daily newspaper said Tuesday.

Beijing recently opened a grandiose new terminal in preparation for the Olympic Games in August. The new Pudong terminal is meant to help handle increased traffic brought by the Beijing Games as well as by the 2010 World Expo — Shanghai's own showcase event.

Pudong's more modest first phase, which opened in 1999 amid the Asian financial crisis, is viewed as ill-suited for the city's ambitions to become a world financial center.

By 2015, Pudong plans to complete a third passenger terminal, raising its capacity to 80 million passengers and 6.5 million tons of cargo a year, according to a recent report by the Center for Asia Pacific Aviation.

Meanwhile, Shanghai's Hongqiao International Airport, in the western suburbs, is due to boost its annual capacity to 30 million passengers with the completion by 2010 of a new terminal and runway, the China Daily quoted Jia Ruijun, general manager of Shanghai International Airport Co., as saying.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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