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Tibet Airport Sees 1st Night Flight After 43 Years

A major airport in Tibet saw its first night flight on Wednesday, ending its 43-year history of daytime services.

An Airbus A319 carrying 90 passengers took off from the Lhasa Konggar Airport at 7:50 PM, and landed at 9:35 PM at Chengdu's Shuangliu International Airport in neighboring Sichuan Province.

Only Air China, the country's biggest carrier, was offering night flights at the airport, said Liang Gang, of the company's Tibet branch.

"A night flight will take off from the Konggar Airport every Wednesday night for Chengdu," he said.

The Tibet autonomous regional capital, Lhasa, had been the only regional capital in China with no capacity for night flights.

At 3,650 meters above sea level, the airport, one of the world's highest and one of four in the region, had installed runway lighting to enable landings around the clock for the first time.

The lighting cost 99 million yuan (US$14.6 million), and the project was carried out between March 15 and June 24.

"The night flight aircraft use the sophisticated RNP technology, which uses global-positioning satellites and onboard flight management systems to guide aircraft along precise flight paths," Liang said.

The airport extended its runway to 4,000 meters in 2001, in a 300-million-yuan upgrade that included a new terminal and passenger facilities. It aims to handle 1.1 million passengers annually by 2010, compared to 1.05 million in 2007.

(Xinhua News Agency November 13, 2008)

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