China opens new border airport in southwest

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China opens new border airport in southwest
 
China opened a civil airport in Tengchong County in the southwestern Yunnan Province Monday at the border between the country and Myanmar.
That's the location where the Flying Tigers, a band of U.S. fighter pilots, helped China fight against the Japanese invasion during World War II.
The air route will cut the travel time to the provincial capital of Kunming from Tengchong to 50 minutes. It currently takes 10 hours by road.
The airport launched three flights between Kunming and Tengchong every day and would open other routes linking the county with other tourist sites in Yunnan, including Lijiang and Xishuangbanna, according to Zou Huiyu, spokesman for the Yunnan Airport Group.
The 476-million-yuan (69 million U.S. dollars) Camel Peak Airport is able to handle 480,000 passengers and 2,100 tonnes of cargo per year, and it is expected to handle as many as 295,000 passengers in 2009, Zou said.
The site of the airport was in Camel Peak Village, about 12 kilometers from the Tengchong county seat. In 2008, Tengchong received 2.88 million tourists.
Camel Peak Village is closely associated with the Tigers and the famous Camel Peak Aviation Route across the Himalayas which was called the "death route." It was used to deliver urgently needed military supplies more than 60 years ago.
The Tigers were a band of volunteer U.S. military men sent in secret to Asia by President Franklin D. Roosevelt before the United States entered World War II. They joined an air force organized for China by Claire Lee Chennault, a retired U.S. Army colonel.

(Xinhua News Agency February 17, 2009)