An A319 jetliner has successfully completed the first commercial flight to Ali Airport in Tibet, officially opening the world’s third highest airport – which is located at an elevation of 4,274 metres (14,022 feet).
The aircraft, operated by Air China, performed its 4-hr. 23-min. maiden flight on 1 July from China’s Chengdu Shuangliu Airport – with a short-stopover in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Later that day, the A319 left for Lhasa and subsequently returned to Chengdu, completing the Chengdu-Lhasa-Ali-Lhasa-Chengdu round trip.
To date, Airbus’ A319 is the only civil aircraft certified by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) for flights to and from Ali Airport.
“We are proud to see that the A319 has been chosen to operate the first flight to Ali Airport. Airbus experts have worked together with CAAC and Chinese experts in preparation for the airport’s opening,” said Didier Lux, Airbus Executive Vice President Customer Services. “Airbus will continue to work closely with the CAAC, provide constant support and contribute to the smooth operation of Ali Airport.”
The A319 was selected to be the first civil jetliner operating to and from Ali Airport due to its proven performance on high altitude flights. Statistics show that over 80 percent of all commercial flights to and from Tibet are flown by Airbus aircraft, a large percentage of which are A319s.
Paving the way for this milestone, the A319 completed a Required Navigation Performance – Authorisation Required (RNP-AR) validation flight on 28 May using customised procedures for Ali Airport – which were designed by Airbus subsidiary QUOVADIS.