China has opened a vast, multibillion-dollar airport in the country’s capital, in the run-up to a major political anniversary, Guardian reported.

Less than five years after construction began, the 450bn yuan (£50bn) Daxing international airport was officially opened on Wednesday in a ceremony attended by the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping.

China is preparing to celebrate its National Day on 1 October, marking 70 years since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, against the backdrop of unrest in Hong Kong and a flagging economy.

The new mega-airport, the second in Beijing, was designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid in the shape of a starfish with five connected concourses. It is said to be the world’s largest single-building airport terminal. At 700,000 sq metres, with four runways, it is expected to be able to handle 72 million passengers a year by 2025. By 2040, the airport is expected to expand to eight runways and accommodate 100 million passengers a year.

Officials have been showing off the sleek new airport for the past year, hosting tours of the space, which is to include customer-service robots to deliver flight information and facial recognition-enabled check-in.

Critics have questioned the need for a second airport in the capital, especially one that is almost twice the distance from the city centre as the existing airport.

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