China's westernmost and first ultra-high altitude airport in Xinjiang to open to traffic

2022-12-22source:Global Times

China Southern Airlines will open a round-trip air route between Urumqi, capital of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and the county of Tashkurgan on Friday, which signals that Tashkurgan Khunjerab airport - China's westernmost airport and the first Xinjiang airport of ultra-high altitude - is set to officially open to traffic, according to a post on the WeChat account of the air carrier's Xinjiang subsidiary on Tuesday. 

The flight will take off from Urumqi at 8:35 am on Friday and arrive at Khunjerab airport at 10:55 am, and will make a return flight at 2 pm on Friday, after around three hours of ground servicing. The flight will be carried out by an Airbus A319 jet, with over 200 seats provided that can fully meet the travel demands of individual passengers, news website reported. 

As the only ultra-high altitude airport in Xinjiang, the Khunjerab airport ranked 14th in China for runway altitude, and it will replace Kashgar airport as China's westernmost airport.

Passengers in Tashkurgan will be able take the flight, transferring via Urumqi, to head to other Chinese cities, including Changsha, capital of East China's Hunan Province, Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality as well as Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province, according to the report. 

The Khunjerab airport is located at the center of the palm of Pamir Plateau, and it is home to four out of the 12 snowy mountains that have a height over 8,000 meters in the world. It also has the Khunjerab port, the world's highest border port. 

The Khunjerab airport completed two-day verification tests on relevant subjects in May 2022, including on traditional flight programs and performance-based navigation flight programs, minimum operation standards and runways.

The project was one of the major airport construction projects in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period for Xinjiang and the Civil Aviation Administration of China. Passenger throughput is expected to reach 160,000 people and cargo throughout will reach 400 tons.

During the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), Xinjiang will further accelerate the construction of airports, with a planned 15 civilian airports to be built or already under construction, bringing the total number of civilian airports in the region to 37.

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