The price of an air ticket from Chengdu, capital of southwest China's Sichuan Province, to Tibet has hit a record low of 450 yuan (56.25 U.S. dollars), as many tourists are choosing to take the train since the Qinghai-Tibet Railway opened in July.
Before the railway began operation, air tickets were in high demand and cost 1,500 yuan (US$187.5).
Since the beginning of November air tickets have been discounted by as much as 70 percent, and are now almost 250 yuan (US$31.25) cheaper than a sleeper-car train ticket.
"The trains have taken away our customers, which is the main reason we are offering such discounts," said a sales manager for Sichuan Airlines.
Aviation had been the main mode of travel to Tibet. Air China's Southwest Branch had provided the only flights to the Tibetan capital since March, 1965, when air service was first launched. It flew a million passengers a year to Tibet.
Sichuan Airlines launched its own flights from Chengdu to Tibet in August, 2005. Its move was then copied by other competitors. Currently, there are eight flights a day from Chengdu to Lhasa, capital of Tibet, and some of the flights are only half full.
(Xinhua News Agency November 9, 2006)