Coming Soon: World's Highest Airport
China will break ground next year on airport 14,553 feet above sea level
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2011 9:05 AM CST
This 10 August 2002 file photo shows a semi-nomadic Tibetan herdswoman making her way across grasslands as hovering clouds pass on the outskirts of Nagqu, some 4,500 meters above sea level.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – It will soon take a little less effort to soar into the clouds: China will next year break ground on the world's highest airport. The $280 million airport is scheduled to open in 2015 in Tibet's Nagqu county. Its planned height: 14,553 feet above sea level, inching out the current title-holder, also located in Tibet, by about 334 feet. The new airport comes as part of China's efforts to pour money into Tibet's infrastructure as a way to improve living standards; activists counter that the new airports, roads, and railway will drive an influx of Chinese migrants to the region, weakening Tibetan Buddhist culture. In other interesting airport trivia, Reuters notes that two of Tibet's five civilian airports are closed for the majority of the year due to extreme weather.