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The first Nanyuan Chinese Airport closes in Beijing after 109 years



Beijing (CNN) – After last Wednesday's new, multi-billion dollar airport opened in big fanfare, part of China's history has quietly closed its doors across the city.
The country's first airport, Nanyuan Airport, closed forever on September 25, the same day that Beijing's new Daxing Airport was opened by President Xi Jinping.

The last flight, China United Airlines KN5830, left shortly after 10pm, state media reported. By Saturday, its doors were tightly closed and the parking lot was mostly empty.

Several other dusty cars were politely spotted against their side window. "Hello! This airport officially moved to Daxing International Airport on September 25 … I want to thank you again for your confidence in Nanyuan Airport," the statement said.

Nanyuan was first discovered in 1

910, 109 years ago, when China was still ruled by the Qing Dynasty. He saw two world wars, the Civil War of China and finally the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

According to the state-owned China China, Nanyuan will become an aviation museum while its practical functions will be transferred to Daxing Airport.

Superficially, the two cannot be different.

Daxing, designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid, is elegant and high-tech. Nanyuan is far below, with a brutally practical square shape and rust marks showing

However, even days after its closure, Beijing citizens still flock to the old terminal to pay tribute to a slice of the history of the city.

33-year-old Xiang Wang visited the airport with his children and partner on Saturday, the first weekend after closing, taking photos of historic exhibits set by the government.

"The Chinese dream has withdrawn from here," he said.

  Wang Xiang and his young daughter posed in front of a plaque commemorating the closing of Beijing Nanyuan Airport on September 29.

Wang Xiang and his young daughter pose for a sign commemorating the closing of Beijing Nanyuan Airport on September 29.

CNN / Ben Westcott

Wang, a PhD student at Tsinghua University, said he deeply regretted not receiving the Nanyuan departure ticket for the last time and was jealous of his classmates who got a job here.

"We have feelings for this place," he said. "It's sad that Nanyuan is gone … I brought my 1-year-old son here. He probably won't understand what I'm telling him about it, but he will have memories."

Nanyuan has witnessed some major points in Chinese history. After the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the first squadron of Communist air forces flying over Tiananmen departed Nanyuan.
In 1971, when then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger flew to China secretly to arrange for President Richard Nixon's historic visit, he hit Nanyuan Airport.
  An abandoned security post at Beijing Nanyuan Airport, which closed its doors this week.

An abandoned security post at Beijing Nanyuan Airport, which closed its doors this week.

CNN / Ben Westcott

Chunqian Yin, a 34-year-old accountant, brought his son to the airport to be a part of the historic moment.

"I will miss this airport a lot. I used to see planes flying here, but now I can't say anymore," she said.

But Ying said she also takes a philosophical approach to closing the airport. After all, she said, there can now be a boom in construction in the area.

"There are no new things to come if the old things are gone, "she said.


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