The world’s highest-altitude civilian airport started operating on Monday in a remote Tibetan-populated prefecture of China.
Daocheng Yading airport, in south-western Sichuan province, is 4,411 metres (14,472 feet) above sea level.
Built at a cost of 1.58 (b) billion yuan (258 (m) million US dollars), the airport reduces the travel time from the provincial capital of Chengdu from two days by bus to just over an hour by plane.
Passengers on the first flight arriving from Chengdu were each given a Hada – a Tibetan white silk ribbon expressing goodwill.
“I’m really excited because Yading is a beautiful place,” said Mou Diaoting, a tourist from Chengdu. “I’ve been dreamed of coming. Today I can finally fly here directly and I’m just too excited.”
Authorities hope the airport will join the so-called “Shangri-La Loop” – a route connecting airports in cities around the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.
Previously, the world’s highest-altitude civilian airport was Qamdo Bangda Airport, in the Tibet Autonomous Region, which is 4,334 metres (14,219 feet) above sea level.
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