China to build 37 airports in remote west


China plans to invest 52 billion yuan (US$6.7 billion) in building 37 new airports and expanding 31 others in the west of the country over the next four years, the People’s Daily said Saturday.

Citing China’s civil aviation authorities, the newspaper said that western areas of the country had only 38 percent of the nation’s airports, and the need for more access to aviation was growing along with economic development.

The remote northwestern parts of the country were particularly deprived, it said, adding the construction plan would redress the balance with more affluent eastern areas of the country.

One of the new airports, to be built in Tibet, would be the highest in the world at over 4,000 meters (13,200 feet) above sea level, the newspaper said.

The Tibetan autonomous region has only two airports at present — one near the capital, Lhasa, and the other in Qamdo prefecture.

The airport construction plan was agreed at talks last year between the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) and officials representing western province, the newspaper said.

They agreed to implement the plan during the current 2006-2010 state development plan, it added.