Wuhan Tianhe International Airport

Wuhan Tianhe International Airport (IATA: WUH, ICAO: ZHHH) serves Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province, People’s Republic of China. It was opened on 15 April 1995 substituting the old Hankou Wangjiadun Airport and Nanhu Airport as the major airport of Wuhan.[1][2] The airport is located in Wuhan’s suburban Huangpi District, around 26 km (16 mi) to the north of Wuhan city center. It is the busiest airport of central China as it is geographically located in the centre of China’s airline route network. The airport is a focus city for Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines. The airport has flights to international destinations such as New York City, San Francisco, London, Tokyo, Rome, Istanbul, Dubai, Paris, Sydney, Bangkok, Moscow, Osaka, Seoul, and Singapore.

The airport served 20,772,000 passengers in 2016, making it the 14th busiest airport by passenger traffic in China. The name Tianhe (天河) can be literally translated as “Sky River”; it is also one of the names for the Milky Way in ancient Chinese.[3]

Since January 1, 2019, passengers from 53 countries such as EU countries, Japan, Korea, Russia, the U.S., when traveling to a third country, can enter China from this airport without a Chinese visa for up to 144 hours.


To replace the old Wangjiadun Airport, Chinese government permitted the plan to build a commercial airport in Tianhe Town, Huangpi District, Wuhan at July 1, 1985. The first term construction started in December 1989 and finished in April 1994. It first operated domestic flights but later in 2000, the CAA set it as an international airport.

The airport expanded twice—first for terminal 2 and second for terminal 3, new control tower and the second runway.

Wuhan opened up to intercontinental flights when Air France began service from Paris on 11 April 2012, [6] and two years later opened up to the United States non-stop when China Southern Airlines announced, in September 2014, a daily non-stop flight to San Francisco, originating from Guangzhou, operating with a Boeing 787 to begin December 16, 2014.[7]



Tianhe International Airport has two runways.

Runway West (04L 22R)

Length: 3,400 m (11,200 ft), width: 45 m (148 ft)

Runway East (04R 22L main runway)

Length: 3,600 m (11,800 ft), width: 60 m (200 ft)


Tianhe Airport equipped with ILS II in south side(main landing side), ILS I in north side. The East runway is equipped with blind landing systems.


Terminal 1 (demolished)

Terminal 1 was opened in 1995 when all flight services are transferred from Nanhu Airport to Tianhe International Airport. It was located at where the west concourse of Terminal 3 stands nowadays. It had been the only terminal of the airport until Terminal 2 was completed in 2008.

From 2008 onwards, all domestic flights were operated at T2 while international flights were still operated at T1. T1 was closed in 2010 after serving international flights for two years. A new international terminal was built in 2010, and has undergone subsequent expansions after seeing major increase of international travelers. And it has been demolished during the construction of Terminal 3.[8][9]

Terminal 2 (closed)

Terminal 2 was the main terminal for Tianhe Airport during 2008-2017, which handled only domestic airlines. It has a floor area of 121,200 square meters and a designed capacity to handle 13 million passengers and 320,000 tons of cargo a year. The project was completed in April 15, 2008, at a total cost of 3.37 billion yuan (421.5 million US dollars). By 2010, Wuhan served at least 5 international and 100 domestic routes. The airport’s cargo-handling capacity is to reach 144,000 tons.

Terminal 2 was closed when Terminal 3 were officially opened in mid 2017 for the upgrade construction. [10]

International Terminal (closed)


The International Terminal was opened in December 2010 and all international flights and flights to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan operated at the International Terminal from 2010 to 2017. After the old Terminal 1 was closed in 2010, the International Terminal was sometimes mistakenly called “T1” by passengers.

The single-floor terminal is located at the southwest of Terminal 2. It has a floor area of 5310 square meters, shared by both departure and arrival facilities. To handle wide-body jet within limited ramp, there is no air-bridge for this terminal.[11]

Due to its compact size and the growing number of international flights, there were complaints that Terminal 1 was “too crowded”. In 2013, the average departure traffic was 880 per hour during the peak season, which was far greater than its designed maximum capacity of 550.[12]

The International Terminal was closed in mid 2017 and it will be turned to a chartered and VIP terminal in the future.

Terminal 3


Starting from August 31, 2017, all flights from the original International Terminal (international, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) and T2 (domestic) have been moved to Terminal 3, which has a passenger capacity of 35 million. Following the opening of the new Terminal 3, T1 and T2 were closed temporarily for renovation. T1 is scheduled to operate as the VIP terminal. T2 will undergo renovation and reopen when passengers in T3 exceed the design limit.[13]

The T3 has a new departure lounge, restaurants and duty-free shops.

The construction of Terminal 3 started in June 2013 and it was opened on August 31, 2017. A new runway, new control tower, and a transportation hub connecting the airport to the city with an intercity railway and a metro line have been built and opened along with the new terminal.

Airlines and destinations


Airlines Destinations
9 Air Guiyang
Air China Baotou, Beijing–Capital, Changchun, Chengdu, Daqing, Guangzhou, Guiyang, Haikou, Hohhot, Huizhou, Korla, Lanzhou, Linfen, Macau, Qingdao, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Surat Thani,[15] Tianjin, Urumqi, Xi’an, Xiamen, Xilinhot, Zhanjiang, Zhuhai
Air France Paris–Charles de Gaulle
AirAsia Kota Kinabalu
AirAsia X Kuala Lumpur–International
All Nippon Airways Tokyo–Narita
Beijing Capital Airlines Dalian, Enshi, Haikou, Jinan, Lijiang, Qingdao, Sanya, Shenyang
Cathay Dragon Hong Kong
Chengdu Airlines Beihai, Chengdu, Guiyang, Lhasa, Taizhou
China Airlines Taipei–Taoyuan
China Eastern Airlines Beihai,[16] Beijing–Capital, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dali, Dalian, Datong, Enshi, Fukuoka, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Guiyang, Haikou, Hangzhou, Huai’an,[16] Jieyang, Jinzhou,[17] Kaohsiung, Kunming, Lanzhou, Liuzhou,[18] Luzhou,[16] Mandalay,[19] Ningbo, Ordos,[16] Panzhihua, Qingdao, Rizhao,[20]Sanya, Shanghai–Hongqiao, Shanghai–Pudong, Shennongjia, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Shiyan,[21]Sydney,[22] Taipei–Taoyuan, Taiyuan, Taizhou,[16] Urumqi, Wenzhou, Xi’an, Xiamen, Xining, Yancheng, Yangon,[23] Yantai, Yibin, Yinchuan, Yulin,[16] Zhanjiang, Zunyi–Xinzhou
China Express Airlines Chongqing, Dalian, Shiyan
China Southern Airlines Bangkok–Suvarnabhumi, Beijing–Capital, Bole, Changchun, Changzhi, Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Dubai–International, Enshi, Guangzhou, Guiyang, Haikou, Hailar, Hangzhou, Harbin, Ho Chi Minh City,[24] Hohhot, Hong Kong, Istanbul,[25] Jieyang, Kaohsiung, Kunming, Lanzhou, London–Heathrow,[26] Moscow–Sheremetyevo, Nanning, New York–JFK,[27] Ningbo, Osaka–Kansai, Phuket, Qingdao, Rome–Fiumicino, San Francisco, Sanya, Seoul–Incheon, Shanghai–Pudong, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Shiyan, Taipei–Taoyuan, Tianjin, Tokyo–Narita, Urumqi, Weihai, Wenzhou, Xi’an, Xiamen, Xishuangbanna, Yiwu, Zhuhai
China Southern Airlines
operated by Chongqing Airlines
Colorful Guizhou Airlines Bijie, Guiyang
GX Airlines Nanning
Hainan Airlines Beijing–Capital, Haikou, Hohhot, Qingdao, Sanming, Sanya, Shenyang, Tongren, Urumqi, Wenzhou, Zhuhai
I-Fly Charter: Saint Petersburg
JC International Airlines Sihanoukville[28]
Jetstar Pacific Airlines Charter: Nha Trang[29]
Joy Air Huangshan, Xiangyang
Juneyao Airlines Dalian, Huizhou, Shanghai–Hongqiao, Shanghai–Pudong
Korean Air Seoul–Incheon
Kunming Airlines Kunming, Tengchong
Lanmei Airlines Siem Reap, Sihanoukville[30]
Lion Air Charter: Denpasar, Manado
Loong Air Hangzhou, Xingyi
Lucky Air Dalian, Kunming, Lijiang, Qingdao
Malaysia Airlines Kuala Lumpur–International
Maldivian Malé
Malindo Air Kuala Lumpur–International, Penang[31]
Mandarin Airlines Taipei–Songshan
New Gen Airways Charter: Krabi
Okay Airways Tianjin
Ruili Airlines Harbin, Kunming, Lanzhou, Mangshi, Shenyang
Scoot Singapore[32]
Shandong Airlines Beijing–Capital, Guiyang, Jinan, Nanning, Qingdao, Xiamen, Yantai, Yinchuan
Shanghai Airlines Shanghai–Hongqiao, Zhanjiang
Shenzhen Airlines Hohhot, Lanzhou, Nanning, Quanzhou, Shenyang, Shenzhen
Sichuan Airlines Chengdu, Chongqing, Harbin, Nanning, Nantong, Quanzhou, Shennongjia
Spring Airlines Osaka–Kansai[33]
Spring Airlines Japan Tokyo–Narita
Sriwijaya Air Charter: Denpasar
Thai AirAsia Bangkok–Don Mueang, Phuket
Thai Lion Air Bangkok–Don Mueang[34]
Tianjin Airlines Guiyang, Haikou, Liupanshui, Sanya, Xi’an, Xiamen
Urumqi Air Singapore,[35] Urumqi
Vietnam Airlines Charter: Da Nang
West Air Chongqing, Fuzhou
XiamenAir Fuzhou, Hangzhou, Hohhot, Lanzhou, Lijiang, Liuzhou, Mianyang, Nanning, Quanzhou, Taiyuan, Tianjin, Xiamen, Xining, Yinchuan, Zunyi–Maotai


Airlines Destinations
China Postal Airlines Nanjing
SF Airlines Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhengzhou
Uni-Top Airlines Chennai, Delhi, Luxembourg, Tokyo–Narita, Kuala Lumpur
Yangtze River Express Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Shenzhen
Emirates SkyCargo Dubai-Al Maktoum
Kalitta Air Anchorage, Chicago

Ground transportation

Two tolled expressways, the S18 Wuhan Airport Expressway and the S19 Wuhan Airport 2nd Expressway(the S18 is now closed because of roadwork), connect the airport to downtown Hankou.[36]

There is a limited bus service between Wuhan Tianhe Airport and several bus stops in the urban area of Wuhan.[37]

The Wuhan–Xiaogan Intercity Railway, one of the lines of the Wuhan Metropolitan Area intercity railway, serves Wuhan Tianhe Airport. This railway opened in December 2016.[38]

The extension of Line 2 of Wuhan Metro to Tianhe Airport opened on 28 December 2016.[39]

Future development

Presently, Tianhe is the only civic airport in the Wuhan metropolitan area. However, the city authorities are considering repurposing the military Shanpo Airfield (山坡机场; 30°05′17″N 114°18′52″E), located in the city’s far southern suburbs (Shanpo Township, Jiangxia District), as a commercial cargo airport. If the plans are implemented, Shanpo will become Wuhan’s second airport.[40]