The first trial night flight in Tibet proved a success when an Airbus A319 plane belonging to Air China landed at Lhasa Gongga Airport on Friday evening.
"The history of no night flights in Lhasa ended tonight," said Xu Bo, the Civil Aviation Administration's Tibet Branch head. "It is of great significance to the tourism recovery and economic development in this region."
Lhasa had been the only regional capital in China that couldn't handle night flights because of its altitude, about 3,650 meters above the sea level.
The airport, one of the world's highest and one of four in the autonomous region, recently installed runway lighting to allow it to receive flights around the clock for the first time since it started operation 43 years ago.
The lighting cost 99 million yuan (about 13.2 million U.S. dollars).
"The trial flight adopted the sophisticated RNP technology, which uses global-positioning satellites and onboard flight management systems to guide aircraft along precise flight paths," said Li Ying, an Air China official in charge of the flight.
The airport extended its runway to 4,000 meters in 2001, in a 300 million yuan upgrade that also 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 June 29, 2008)