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26october20101Dharamshala: A new civil airport is due to open at Shigatse (Ch: Xigaze), Tibet's 2nd Largest City of the Center Tibet next month. The terminals, furnishings, facilities and flight tests at Xigaze Peace Airport, 48km from Shigatse City, are now completed. This should allow the airport to become operational this November, according to Kelsang Tsering, Chinese communist party chief for Shigatse region, the so called Peace Airport. No definite opening date has yet been set.

The airport, where construction first began on April 29 2009, represents an investment of 489 million yuan, or 74 million US dollars. It is estimated that by 2020 the airport will handle 230,000 passengers and 1,150 tonnes of cargo annually, with 2,580 take-offs.

The Shigatse Peace Airport will become the 5th civil airport in Tibet, after the Gonggar airport in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, Med-Ling airport in Nyingtri, Pamdha airport in Chamdho region, and the Gunsa airport in Ngari. There are also plans to build another airport, the Nagchu Dagring airport, at Nagchu region. This would become the highest airport in the world, at 4,436m above sea level.

It is hoped that the new airport will stimulate investment and increase tourism into Shigatse. The city is famously close to Mount Everest, known locally as Jomolangma, and to the tri-junction of India, Bhutan and Tibet. A rail to link between Lhasa and Shigaze is also already under construction.

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