Wuqiao Airport, the first in the Three Gorges area, will be put into use in later May after trial operations starting May 10, local civil aviation officials said.
Covering more than 120 hectares, the airport can accommodate B737-300, A320-200 and MD-82 aircraft. Construction of the airport cost 370 million yuan (45 million US dollars).
Tan Jiwei, director of the Wanzhou District Administration of Civil Aviation, said flights from Wanzhou to Guangzhou, Chengdu and Chongqing will be opened first. Flights to other large cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an and Wuhan, will be opened successively.
Due to its geographical location, water transport has long played a key role in the Three Gorges area, which the world's largest water conservancy project is under construction.
The opening of the airport is expected to boost tourism and create business opportunities along the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, China's longest river.
The Daxian-Wanzhou railway, the first rail route leading to the Three Gorges area was opened to traffic last year.
(Xinhua News Agency April 5, 2003)