Air China will begin offering direct flights from Beijing to Tibet this month, cutting down the current travel time by two hours.
The new service to Lhasa, Tibet's capital, will depart Beijing daily starting July 10. Currently, all flights to Lhasa are routed through Chengdu, the capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province.
The new service is designed to boost tourism in the Himalayan region. Following the March 2008 riots, much of Lhasa's commercial district was destroyed. Subsequent travel bans and harsh government crackdown on Buddhist monasteries sent tourism plummeting. Arrivals in the first half of last year fell nearly 70 percent, with the nation only fully reopening to foreign tourists on April 5.
The new flight will leave at 7 a.m. everyday from the Beijing Capital International Airport, and arrive at the Lhasa Gonggar Airport at 10:50 a.m.