All Airports in Tibet
How to get to tibet? By air is the easiest way to travel to Tibet. At present, there are five airports in Tibet, namely, Lhasa Gongar Airport, Nyingchi Milin Airport, Ali Kunsha Airport, Chamdo Bangda Airport and Shigatse Peace Airport. This year, Tibet plans to built another another airport in Nagchu of northern Tibet.
Lhasa Gonggar Airport – the first airport in Tibet
Lhasa Gonggar Airport is the most frequently used one by tourists who get to Tibet by flight. This airport is also one of the highest airport in the world, at an elevation of 3,500 metres (11,500 ft) above sea level. It is located at a place where Yarlung Tsangpo (also known as Brahmaputra River) is very wide on the right bank (southern bank) and designed to handle wide-bodied aircraft in the thin Tibetan air.
The Gonggar Airport, surrounded by green mountains, is 87 kilometres (54 mi) from Tsetang and 70 kilometres from Lhasa. The Lhasa-Gonggar Airport Highway has been put into use and it is only takes half an hour from the airport to the urban district of Lhasa. This airport has launched the following air routes, Lhasa to Kathmandu, Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Shangri-la, Kunming, Chongqing, Xian, Guangzhou and so on.
Chamdo Bangda Airport – the second airport in Tibet
Chamdo Bangda Airport, also known as Bamda Airport, is located in Bangda, Qamdo (also Chamdo) prefecture of eastern Tibet. With an altitude of 4,300 meters, it is the highest airport in the world and can handle jumbo jets. The airport is 2.5 hours by mountain road from the county seat of Qamdo, Chamdo Town which is 128 km away from the airport. The long commute is the result of no flat land closer to the city being available to construct an airport.
Its runway is the longest publicly used runway in the world, at 5,500 m, because the low air density at this altitude makes a higher takeoff and landing true airspeed necessary.
Chamdo Bangda Airport handles flights to and from Chengdu and Lhasa. All the flights are before noon. The flight returning to Chengdu departs one hour after the plane from Chengdu landing at Chamdo airport.
Before landing, you will be warned to move slowly on leaving the plane for you may feel light headed or dizzy because of the thin air.
Nyingchi Milin Airport – the third airport in Tibet
Nyingchi Milin Airport is built in Nyingchi Prefecture of eastern Tibet Autonomous Region. This airport is located in a winding valley, which makes it one of the most challenging instrument approaches in the world. It is the lowest airport in Tibet, at an elevation of 2,949 meters above sea level.
Nyingchi Milin Airport is the third airport put into operation in Tibet, with a designed annual passenger flow of 120,000. Situated in the valley of Yarlung Zangbo River, it is known as ‘the world’s most difficult airport for planes to reach’, and surrounded by over 4000m high mountains enveloped by clouds and fogs throughout the year. Planes have to fly through the narrow and winding river valley. The narrowest flight path is less than 4 km from one mountain ridge along the valley to the opposite one.
There are just 100 days airworthy in the Nyingchi Airport each year according to meteorological data. At present, there are very few flights to and from the airport. Among them, Chengdu-Nyingchi flight is a busy airline. There are a lot of travelers entering Tibet through Nyingchi as the low altitude of Nyingchi can help them against the AMS. Travelers flying to Lhasa and travelling eastwards can fly out through Milin airport.
Ali Kunsha Airport – the fourth airport in Tibet
Ali Kunsha Airport, also known as Ngari Gunsa Airport, is located near the town of Shiquanhe or Ali in Ngari Prefecture, western Tibet Autonomous Region. This airport started operations on 1 July 2010, becoming the fourth civil airport in Tibet. Kunsha Airport or Gunsa Airport, built at an elevation of more than 4,200 meters above sea level, is also one of the highest airports in the world. This airport offers flights from Chengdu to Lhasa on each Tuesday and Friday. It is expected to handle 120,000 passengers by 2020.
Shigatse Peace Airport – the fifth airport in Tibet
Shigatse Peace Airport, or Shigatse Air Base, is a dual-use military and civilian airport serving Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet Autonomous Region. On 30 October 2010, the airport was opened as the fifth civilian airport in Tibet, becoming the fifth airport in Tibet. The airport is located at 43km away from downtown of Shigatse which is 3782 meters above sea level.
Shigatse Peace Airport is projected to handle 230,000 passengers and 1,150 tons of cargo annually by 2020. It offers flights to and from Lhasa and Chengdu. From Lhasa to Shigatse, flights will only take half hour. And to Chengdu, flight hour is about two hours and fifteen minutes. It takes about 3 or 4 hours from Shigatse to Lhasa by road (250km). The railway between Lhasa and Shigatse is under construction. In the near future, it will be more convenient to get to Lhasa from Shigatse.
Nagqu Dagring Airport – the sixth airport in Tibet
Nagqu Dagring Airport is planned to build at an altitude of 4,436 meters in Nagqu prefecture of northern Tibet. It will be 102 meters higher than Bamda Airport in Tibet’s Qamdo prefecture, currently the world’s highest airport in Tibet. Its construction will begin in 2011 and is scheduled to take three years.
More flights will be put in operation this year to connect major cities in Tibet and also link Tibet with other major cities nationwide. The increase in flight services is expected to help Tibet’s airports handle 2.2 million passengers and 15,000 tonnes of cargo in 2012.
Moreover, the conditions of the railways and roads to and in Tibet is also being improved. Getting to Tibet by railway or by highway is time-consuming but money-saving.