China has opened the world's highest civilian airport on the Tibetan plateau in the southwest of the country. It is 77 meters higher than its predecessor in China's Tibet Autonomous Region.
China launched its first commercial flights at the Daocheng Yading airport in Ganzi prefecture in the province of Sichuan on Monday, state media said on Tuesday.
The airport is built at an elevation of 4,411 meters (14,472 feet), beating the previous altitude champion, Bangda Airport in Qamdo in the Tibet Autonomous Region, which is located at 4,334 meters.
The new single-runway airport was built at a cost of 1.58 billion yuan (1.93 million euros, $255 million). According to the local governor, Yexe Dawa, it will promote tourism to the Yading nature reserve and other nearby sites of interest.
Chinese state media said the flights will cut the travel time from Daocheng county to Sichuan's provincial capital of Chengdu from two days by bus to just 65 minutes.
Aircraft engines produce less thrust at high altitudes because of the thinner air, meaning that runways at high airports need to be longer than usual. The runway at Daocheng is 4,200 meters (13,780 feet) long, just 242 meters shorter than the longest runway at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.
tj/ipj (dpa, AP)