China’s ARJ21 jetliner launches first high-plateau air route in Xinjiang

China’s ARJ21 regional jetliner has inaugurated its first high-plateau air route, connecting Kashgar in southern Xinjiang with Khunjerab airport near the China-Pakistan border.

On Tuesday, China’s domestically developed regional jetliner, the ARJ21, successfully launched its first high-plateau air route in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The new air route connects Kashgar Laining International Airport in southern Xinjiang with Khunjerab Airport in Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, situated in the Pamirs region near the China-Pakistan border.

This significant milestone marks a new chapter for the ARJ21, which was designed by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC). The ARJ21, known for its adaptability to various terrains and challenging weather conditions, has now demonstrated its capability to operate in high-altitude environments. This is a critical step forward in enhancing regional connectivity and supporting economic development in some of China’s most remote and underdeveloped areas.

The newly established route is a vital link between Kashgar, a key economic hub in southern Xinjiang, and Taxkorgan, a remote county in the Pamirs region. Taxkorgan is known for its unique cultural heritage and strategic importance as a land port on the China-Pakistan border. The ARJ21’s deployment on this route is expected to facilitate trade and tourism, stimulate economic growth, and improve access to essential services for the local population.

Operating at an altitude of over 3,000 meters, the Khunjerab airport presents unique challenges that require specialized aircraft capable of high-altitude takeoffs and landings. The ARJ21, with its robust performance and advanced avionics, is well-suited to meet these demands. The jetliner’s ability to maintain stable operations in such a challenging environment underscores the advancements in China’s aviation technology and the growing competitiveness of its domestically produced aircraft.

Local officials have hailed the launch of the new air route as a significant achievement that will bring numerous benefits to the region. They highlighted that improved air connectivity will not only facilitate easier travel for residents but also attract more tourists to the scenic and culturally rich Pamirs region. This is expected to boost local businesses and contribute to the overall development of the area.

The introduction of the ARJ21 on this high-plateau route is part of a broader effort by China to enhance its domestic aviation infrastructure and expand regional air services. It aligns with the country’s strategic goal of improving connectivity and promoting economic integration across its vast territory, particularly in regions like Xinjiang that play a crucial role in the Belt and Road Initiative.