China / Society

Departures close at aging airport

By Li Yingqing and Guo Anfei ( Updated: 2012-06-13 21:45

One of China's oldest airports, Kunming Wujiaba International, will cease operations at the end of this month, in favor of the new Kunming Changshui International Airport, 21 km east of the city.

Wujiaba airport, with a history going back to the early 20th century, was home to the legendary "Flying Tigers", the 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG), during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945).

In 2011, Wujiaba handled more than 22 million passengers, more than double its design capacity, making it the seventh busiest airport on the Chinese mainland.

Kunming Changshui, with an investment of more 23 billion yuan ($xx million), is designed to handle 38 million passengers a year and about a million tons of cargo traffic.

The airport will be China's fourth largest airport after Beijing, Shanghai Pudong and Guangzhou.

From June 28, all operations will transfer to the new airport and Wujiaba will be demolished.

The construction of the new airport is part of Yunnan's efforts to be the gateway to Southwest China. The province, which has 12 domestic airports, borders Vietnam, Laos and Burma. The new Kunming airport will connect 14 domestic cities and those neighboring countries.

The southeast China province, with an area of 390,000 square kilometers, has complicated terraces and 84 percent of its land is mountainous, and some cities still do not have any rails.

The arrival of the new airport is also hoped to encourage airliners to introduce more aircrafts and open more flights.

Luck Air, for instance, Yunnan's second largest airliner in terms of market share, plans to introduce at least three new planes this year. Currently it has 17 aircraft and operates 38 routes.

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