World's highest civilian airport opens

2013-09-17 11:23
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Beijing - China opened the world's highest civilian airport on Monday, in a restive and remote Tibetan region of southwestern Sichuan province, which will cut journey times from the provincial capital from two days to a little more than one hour.

Daocheng airport in Garzi, a heavily ethnic Tibetan part of Sichuan, is 4 411 meters above sea level, and overtakes Qamdo airport in Tibet, which sits at 4 334 metres above sea level, for the title of world's highest.

The official Xinhua news agency said flights would initially connect with Chengdu, the provincial capital, otherwise a two-day bus trip away. Flights to cities including Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing will begin at a later date.

The 1.58bn yuan (R2.53bn at R1.60/yuan) airport, designed to handle 280 000 passengers a year, will help open up the nearby Yading Nature Reserve to tourism, Xinhua added, referring to an area renowned for its untouched natural beauty.

China has embarked upon a multi-billion-dollar programme in recent years to revamp old airports and build new ones, especially in the remote west, as a way of boosting the economy.

Some of these airports have been located in Tibetan regions, whose population chafes at Chinese political control, and often have a dual military purpose so troops can be bought in quickly during periods of unrest.

Garzi has been the scene of numerous self-immolation protests against Chinese rule in the last three years or so and remains under tight security. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski)

Take a look at our round-up of scary airport runways around the world.

Read more on:    adventure  |  flights  |  air travel  |  travel  |  lifestyle  |  travel international

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