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Construction of China's westernmost airport begins on the Pamirs

Updated: Apr 28,2020 02:42 PM    CGTN

The construction of China's westernmost airport began in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on April 26, which will also be the region's first plateau airport upon completion.

The launch ceremony for the much-anticipated project was held on April 26 in Taxkorgan, China's only county-level city that borders three countries — Tajikistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The total investment of this project is about 1.63 billion yuan (about $230 million). According to the airport layout, there will be a runway measuring 3,800 meters long and 45 meters wide, a terminal of 3,000 square meters and an apron with four stands, among other facilities. The airport will be able to accommodate 160,000 passengers and 400 tons of cargoes annually.

The airport is considered an important project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and is expected to boost the economic development of Taxkorgan and Xinjiang as a whole.

"It will create a new 'air passage' leading to Central Asia and South Asia," said Zhou Xiang, deputy director of Xinjiang's Civil Aviation Administration.

The airport is expected to bring a lot more tourists. Located on the Pamirs Plateau, Taxkorgan is a desirable tourist destination for its natural beauty and unique Tajik culture, but it's still not accessible by plane or train so far, which greatly hinders its tourism.

The construction company said its work faces multiple challenges. First, it is still at a crucial time to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Also, the workers from inland cities may suffer high-altitude sickness, as the average elevation of the Pamirs is more than 4,500 meters.

"I believe we will finish the mission on time with a high level of quality despite much pressure," said Zhou Yifeng, deputy general manager of Shanghai Road and Bridge Group, told CGTN.

The construction is expected to complete by the first half of 2022.