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Former Military Airport Opened to Int'l Flights
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North China's Qinhuangdao city, one of the co-hosts of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, has opened a former military airport to international charter flights for the first time to cope with a projected tourist peak before and during the Games.

A Tu-154 passenger plane carrying 124 Russian tourists landed at the city's Shanhaiguan Airport at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, and took off in two hours to take home 118 Russian tourists who had arrived earlier.

The new charter route, operated by Russian Yakutia Airlines, links Qinhuangdao and Russia's two far east cities of Blagoveshchensk and Yakutsk with three flights a week, Shanhaiguan Airport authorities said.

Shanhaiguan, an ancient town where the Great Wall meets the sea, was built in 1381 during the Ming Dynasty as a strategic military post to help defend Beijing.

The airport launched its first civil flight in 1984. It has been approved by the Chinese government this year to land international flights because crowds of international football fans are expected to fly to Qinhuangdao for the football events during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

Renovation of the airport involved an investment of 45 million yuan (US$5.8 million), financed by local authorities and China's General Administration of Civil Aviation.

Qinhuangdao is a famous summer resort with the nearest beach from Beijing. It will co-host the soccer tournament of the 2008 Olympic Games along with Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Shenyang.

(Xinhua News Agency July 31, 2007)

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