Tibet Airlines can hardly be accused of flying under the radar. On the contrary, by operating out of Lhasa's Gonggar Airport with service to Tibet and China, the airline's fleet of three Airbus A319 passenger jets is definitely a cut above... pretty much everything.
Tibet Airlines (in Chinese: 西藏航空公司) the first airline to be based in Tibet, launched its regional service with much fanfare on July 26th, 2011. A traditional Tibetan dance performance was conducted on the tarmac at Lhasa's Gonggar Airport beside one of the new airline's Airbus 319 twin-engine jets, followed by a ceremony at which Wang Jian, deputy head of the southwest region bureau of China's Civil Aviation Administration, presented Chairman of Tibet Airlines Xu Bo with a framed copy of the airline's business license.
The inaugural flight from Lhasa set the tone for Tibet Airlines' service as it was bound for Ali Khunsa Airport in Tibet's Ali Prefecture. Situated just over 14,000 feet (4,267 m) above sea level, Ali Khunsa Airport is the highest airport in the world.
“I am confident, the proven high altitude flight performance of the A319 will enable us to offer our passengers the highest level of comfort on the highest altitude routes,” stated Tibet Airlines Chairman Xu Bo in a prepared news release. “We aim to build a regional network covering all civil airports in the Tibet Autonomous Region.”
Tibet Airlines will soon be spreading its wings further afield, however. Service to and from Beijing is expected to begin by the end of July 2011 and both Shanghai and Chengdu will be added by the end of 2011. After that, well, the sky's the limit.
Long range plans see Tibet Airlines beginning direct flights to Europe by 2015 or 2016 and, according to the Times of India, the airline is interested in starting operations in India and other countries in South and South East Asia. Tibet Airlines... will they Everest? (via Xinhuanet and Seattle PI)