Business / Industries

Tibet pushes for more air traffic links

By Xinhua in Lhasa (China Daily) Updated: 2012-06-08 10:28

Air traffic is about to get busier in Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region because the Civil Aviation Administration of China and regional government agreed on Thursday to encourage airlines to offer more flights to the region.

The CAAC and regional government want airlines to establish more routes linking Lhasa, the regional capital, with Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, as well as several southeast and west Asian countries.

Li Jun, deputy director of the CAAC, said applications for new air routes to Tibet from other countries will be encouraged to aid the growth of Tibet's air passenger volume.

Currently, 32 routes operated by six airlines link with Tibet, but the only international destination among them is Katmandu in Nepal.

Li Haiying, general manager of Sichuan Airlines, said the company hopes to open new routes linking Lhasa with Nepal, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

Tibet was once regarded as a difficult area to fly in because of its complicated geographic conditions and unpredictable weather.

However, air transportation in Tibet has maintained double-digit growth over the past five years.

Figures from the CAAC's Tibet bureau indicate that more than 672,000 passengers traveled in or out of the region by air in the first five months of the year, a 25-percent year-on-year increase.

Tibet's government chief Padma Choling said On Thursday that Tibet is striving to build itself into an international tourist destination with a goal of drawing 15 million visitors annually by 2015.

"The target has created much higher demands for Tibet's air transportation development," he said.

Local authorities also agreed on Thursday on a set of airport expansion and upgrading projects in Tibet.

The regional government has stepped up efforts to upgrade its infrastructure and optimize its transportation network to cater to the rising demand generated by tourism.

Construction of two new airports in Tibet's remote Nagqu and Nyingchi areas is under way. Meanwhile, two railways currently under construction will link Lhasa with the city of Xigaze and Nyingchi county.

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