Nyingchi Airport in Operation

Updated: September 4, 2006 | Clicks: 1861

Nyingchi Airport, the third civil airport in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, began operations when a Boeing (NYSE:BA) 757 landed on Friday.

The plane left Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, at 7:30 a.m. and arrived at Nyingchi Airport an hour and a half later, according to flight captain Wei Yiqiang.

"The weather was fine, so the flight turned out to be much less difficult than the test flight," Wei said.

A brief ceremony marking the opening was attended by Zhang Qingli, secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and Li Jun, deputy head of General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC).

Cering Wangmo, a Tibetan woman, said it was the first aircraft she had ever seen.

"I am considering making a trip to Chengdu by air sometime," she said.

The flight sowed the seed of a dream in Lhaba Cering, a primary school student. "I want to be a pilot. It must be great to fly a plane."

According to Captain Wei Yiqiang, four Boeing 757 planes specially fitted with a facility known as "required navigation performance" (RNP) will be used to fly the Chengdu-Nyingchi air route.

The RNP fitting, which cost 24 million yuan (about 3 million U.S. dollars), will help enormously reduce flight delays or flights returned back because of unfavorable weather factors, and in turn improve the plateau airport's capabilities of handling air passenger and cargo transport.

Flights will be available every Friday between Chengdu and Nyingchi, with a one-way fare costing 1,380 yuan, according to Air China Southwest Branch Company, the service provider.

Danzim Zhogya, 23, a local resident, says he is happy that the new airport has started formal operation.

"Previously, there had been only a highway connecting Nyingchi to Chengdu, and one single journey by bus takes three days and nights," said Danzim, "Operation of the new airport will facilitate outbound trips of us locals."

Mr.Yang, a native of Chengdu who works with the public security bureau of Bayi, a small township in Nyingchi, had his luck with the first flight on Friday when Nyingchi Airport was put into formal operation.

"In the past, if I wanted to return to my working place from my hometown, I had to fly to Lhasa first, then changed to a bus for a highway trip of at least five hours to reach my working place. I sometimes had to stay in Lhasa for one more night if the luck went awry," said Yang, who was given a 50 percent off with the air ticket price for taking Friday's direct flight to Nyingchi.

"The direct air flight from Chengdu to Nyingchi not only saved me my money, but also reduced my travel hardship," said Yang.

Nyingchi Airport, the third civilian airport in Tibet after Lhasa and Qamdo, has a 3,000-meter runway and is surrounded by mountains. It was completed in April this year and a test flight was carried out in July.

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Built at a cost of 780 million yuan (96.18 million U.S. dollars), including investment by the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC), the airport is 2,949 meters above sea level, lower than the other two civil airports, with a designed annual passenger flow of 120,000.

Nyingchi Prefecture, covering 117,000 square kilometers and bordering India and Myanmar, is known for its humid and mild climate, scenery and rich natural resources.

About 120 kilometers from the Nyingchi Airport is the Yarlung Zangbo River Grand Canyon, the world's largest canyon.

Because of its location, the airport is considered difficult to reach and land on. Meteorological records show it will have about 100 operational days a year.

News Source: Xinhua News

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