URUMQI, Dec. 23 (Xinhua) -- A passenger aircraft on Friday morning arrived in Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, marking the inauguration of the region's first high plateau airport.
Departing from the regional capital Urumqi at 8:57 a.m., the flight CZ5193, operated by China Southern Airlines, landed at the Taxkorgan Airport at 10:59 a.m. The airport, located at 3,258 meters above sea level, is China's westernmost transportation airport.
"A round-trip flight between Urumqi and Taxkorgan has been opened now," said Chen Xiaoguo, general manager of the airport, adding that more airlines will soon join.
Equipped with a 3,800-meter runway, the airport is designed to handle an annual throughput of 160,000 passengers and 400 tonnes of cargo and mail.
Taxkorgan is the only Tajik autonomous county in China, with more than 80 percent of its roughly 40,000 residents belonging to the Tajik ethnic group. Inaccessibility to convenient and efficient transport once restrained Taxkorgan's socio-economic development.
The construction of Taxkorgan Airport began in 2020, with an investment of more than 1.6 billion yuan (about 229 million U.S. dollars).
"In the past, I needed to travel 40 to 50 hours by bus and train to get to Beijing. Thanks to the new airport, the plane has slashed the time to only eight hours," said Mirsayip Nuralip, a local Tajik resident who attended college in Beijing.
The convenient air passage will bring a steady flow of people, logistics and information to the Pamir Plateau, promoting industrial development on the plateau, said Zapar Atawulla, head of the county government.
"The airport will also play a positive role in improving the local transport, promoting local tourism and opening up to the outside world," he added.
Produced by Xinhua Global Service