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Flights increase to compete with railway

Airlines have increased the number of flights to Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, hoping to help themselves to a slice of the tourism boom stimulated by the Qinghai-Tibet Railway that opened on Saturday.
Following a new air route between Xi'an and Lhasa launched by Hainan Airlines in May, China Eastern Airlines also opened a Shanghai-Xi'an-Lhasa route this week. The latter promised to add three Airbus A319 aircraft for the new route by the end of this year.

Air China, which has monopolized air travel in and out of Tibet for nearly 40 years, will put three Airbus A330s into use on the route between Chengdu and Lhasa and increase the flights from 8 to 10 times a day.

The Tourism Bureau of Tibet predicts that the operation of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway will increase the number of tourists to Tibet by 400,000 a year.

Chen Xin, vice-manager of Air China's planning department, said the railway will have little influence on airline passenger numbers.

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