You may find your ears popping even before take-off at this new airport, which sits at just over 14,470 feet above sea-level. (For some perspective, commercial flights usually cruise at an altitude of around 30,000 feet.) Daocheng Yading Airport commenced service by welcoming an Air China flight earlier this week. The airport currently connects with Chengdu, the provincial capital, but service to Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing will be launched at a later time.
The airport, based in the Tibetan region of Sichuan Province, will replace Qamdo Bamda Airport (also in Tibet) as the world's highest airport, reports the Daily Mail.
The 1.58 billion yuan (around $250 million according to xe.com) airport was built to encourage tourism to the area. However, the political controversy that surrounds the Tibetan region has garnered some dissent around this new project.
The elevation presents some challenges for flights as well—according to the AP, "aircraft engines produce less thrust at such elevations because of the much thinner air, calling for longer runways. The one at Daocheng Yading is 13,780 feet long, just 794 feet shorter than the longest runway at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport."
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