Xinjiang welcomes its 25th airport into operation, making Xinjiang still rated No.1 among provinces regarding the number of airports within China.
Tashikuergan Hongqilafu Airport (HQL), China’s westernmost airport and Xinjiang’s first high plateau airport, will officially enter into commercial operations on Friday, December 23rd, according to the Xinjiang branch of China Southern Airlines.
The airport’s first commercial flight number will be CZ 5193/4. It is scheduled to take off from Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang, at 08:35 and arrive at Tashikuergan Hongqilafu Airport at 10:55. After a stop of about three hours, the return flight will take off at 14:00 and back to Urumqi at 16:20.
Tashikuergan County is a border county next to Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and it is an autonomous area for Tajiks. The well-known K2 summit lies on the border between Tashikuergan County and Pakistan. Tashikuergan means “stone city” in the Uygur language and got its name because of the ancient stone castle in the north of the city.
The county has a population of about 43,000, and it’s a multi-ethnic community. The airport’s name, “Hongqilafu,” means “deadly valley” in Persian, and it is the name of the border gate between China and Pakistan.
Tashikuergan County belongs to the Kashgar area of Xinjiang. The distances between Tashikuergan County and the City of Kashgar and Urumqi are approximately 290 km and 1750 km, respectively.
Before the airport was constructed, the local passenger who wanted to travel to Urumqi needed to take a bus to Kashgar (about 5 hours) and then fly or take a train from Kashgar to Urumqi (flight will take two hours and the train will take more than 17 hours) or directly by bus from Zhaosu to Urumqi (around 22 hours). Now the direct flight will only take them two and a half hours.
Tashikuergan Hongqilafu Airport is constructed to meet an annual passenger throughput of 160,000, cargo throughput of 400 tonnes, and a take-off and landing capacity of 1,905 flights by 2025. The investment for building the airport is around 1.63 billion Yuan (about 234 million US dollars).
Tashikuergan Hongqilafu Airport will be the 25th civil airport in operation in Xinjiang, letting Xinjiang maintain its lead in terms of the number of airports in China. According to the Chinese government planning, Xinjiang will have 33 civil airports by 2025.
This below graph shows 25 civil airports scattered in Xinjiang. The red dot indicates the Tashikuergan Hongqilafu Airport, the newest one.
Xinjiang’s first high plateau airport
Tashikuergan Hongqilafu Airport is elevated at 3,258.4 m / 10,690 ft above sea level, and it is the first high plateau airport in Xinjiang.
According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) regulation, airports that are elevated above 1,524m (5,000ft) are categorized as plateau airports, and airports elevated above 2,438m (8,000ft) are categorized as high-plateau airports. CAAC has additional regulatory requirements for these airports in terms of pilot qualification and aircraft operational verification.
CAAC also has additional requirements for verification work of high plateau airports. China Southern Airlines completed the verification flights at the airport on May 19th, 2022. Through the two-day flight tests, the traditional flight procedures and PBN (performance-based navigation) flight procedures, minimum operating standards, operation support, airport runway, navigation equipment, meteorological facilities, taxi routes and signs, and other subjects were verified.
Source: Simple Flying