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China Inaugurates New Airport in Remote Tibet

China has opened a new airport in Tibet with a flight by a plane specially equipped to navigate the rough weather in the remote corner of the Himalayan region, the official Xinhua News Agency reported
( [email protected] ) Sep 03, 2006 06:30 PM EDT

BEIJING (AP) - China has opened a new airport in Tibet with a flight by a plane specially equipped to navigate the rough weather in the remote corner of the Himalayan region, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Saturday.

An Air China Boeing 757 touched down on Friday at the new Nyingchi airport, inaugurating a weekly 90-minute flight from the interior provincial capital of Chengdu, Xinhua said.

The 780 million yuan (US$98 million; euro76 million) airport in Nyingchi _ tucked in the mountains bordering India and Myanmar _ is part of a Chinese government-sponsored infrastructure program meant to raise living standards in Tibet and tie the often restive region closer to China. In July, the government inaugurated a train line connecting the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, to Beijing.

The Nyingchi airport is 2,949 meters (9,731 feet) above sea level and the flight path runs between sheer cliff walls, Xinhua said.

Four Boeing 757s have been outfitted with 24 million yuan (US$3 million; euro2.3 million) navigation systems to cope with the weather and terrain, and only six pilots are currently trained to fly into the airport, the report said