New terminal ready to open at Lhasa's Gonggar Airport
China Daily

Terminal 3 at Lhasa Gonggar Airport in the Tibet autonomous region in February. Terminal 3's aircraft stands were being used as remote stands for Terminal 2 while the Terminal 3 building was under construction. (Photo: CHINA DAILY)

After three years of construction, Terminal 3 at Lhasa Gonggar Airport in the Tibet autonomous region is expected to be put into operation on Saturday, the Tibet bureau of the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on Tuesday.

Lhasa Gonggar Airport is the largest aviation hub in Tibet. Constructing Terminal 3 was a key project for the region during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period.

Tibet, first linked with flight services in 1965, has had a safe flight record lasting 56 years.

Xie Wenming, chief engineer of the construction project management center at CAAC's Tibet bureau, said the main construction of the project included an 88,000-square-meter terminal, a station apron with 21 aircraft stands, and supporting construction of air traffic control, communication and airfreight facilities. Investment in the project has totaled more than 3.9 billion yuan ($603 million).

"After the facility's completion, it will help the airport move toward its annual goal of 9 million passenger visits and 80,000 metric tons of cargo," said Xie, adding that the airport's new cargo station and two aprons have already begun operation.

Gonggar Airport has flight connections with 62 cities via 114 routes, with the number of passengers in 2019 exceeding 4.5 million, according to the bureau.

Terminal 2 of Lhasa Gonggar Airport was officially put into use in 2004, with a designed annual capacity of 1 million passengers.

"The number of annual passenger visits has exceeded the designed capacity of the terminal, restricting the development of the region's civil aviation transportation," Xie said.

Xie said that has also hindered the construction of a comprehensive transportation hub in the region, affecting the travel needs of people of all ethnic groups in Tibet.

Yang Lu, deputy manager of construction management at the airport, said the total area of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 is 25,000 square meters.

"With the new terminal, it is estimated that the maximum walk from the security gate to the farthest boarding gate will be no more than six minutes, making the boarding process simpler and smoother," Yang said.

"The overall design of Terminal 3 borrows Tibetan cultural and ethnic elements. Seen from the sky, it is like a sacred thousand-leaved lotus blooming on the bank of the Yarlung Zangbo River, and from the front it looks like an unfolding hada - a piece of white silk used as a greeting gift among Tibetan people - welcoming visitors from all directions."