High altitude airport opens in SW China

[InKunming--China] A new airport in a Tibetan autonomous prefecture in southwest China's Sichuan Province began operation on Monday.

The Garze Gesar Airport, situated at 4,068 meters above sea level in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze, saw its first airplane land on Monday morning.

It is China's fifth airport located over 4,000 meters above sea level. The airport is expected to handle 500,000 passengers per year.

So far, only one air route links the airport and Chengdu, capital of Sichuan. Air routes to Chongqing, Xi'an and Kunming are expected to be launched in the near future.

The airport will improve the traffic conditions of the prefecture, and is of great significance for the development of the local economy and tourism, as well as emergency response and poverty alleviation, local officials said.

The journey between Garze and Chengdu used to take over eight hours by car. With the new airport, it is now just a one-hour flight.

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