Across China: “Herdsman flights” make travel easier on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau

XINING, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) — Tana, a 33-year-old Mongolian herdswoman from northwest China’s Qinghai Province, opened her door and handed over several large bags to airport staff. The next day, she left her home in Daersen Village, Haixi Mongolian and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, and easily boarded her flight with only one light carry-on bag.

“This service at Huatugou Airport is really convenient. Instead of checking my heavy luggage by myself, the airport staff comes and picks up my big bags, and all I need to do is request the service in advance on WeChat,” said the herdswoman. With free shuttle buses to the airport, she is now able to catch flights more freely and easily.

Rather than enduring hours of tedious and sometimes torturous bus rides, Tana can now get to her destination by plane within two hours by paying only a little more than a bus ticket.

According to Zhang Guowei, general manager of Huatugou Airport of the Qinghai Airport Company, passengers like Tana are the beneficiaries of the “herdsman flights,” a model explored by the Qinghai Airport Company that aims to make their travel experience faster and cheaper.

Under the government subsidy, herdsmen in the region can now enjoy pleasant and more convenient air trips at a good price. “Our prices and services are pro-people, so that more people can enjoy more convenient air travel”, Zhang said.

In order to make the “herdsman flights” more approachable for those who are not familiar with flying, Huatugou Airport came up with a number of measures to assist them. “We have created WeChat groups online, with several counselors in each group, where people can seek help and even book tickets,” Zhang said.

In addition to the online chat groups, the airport also offers free shuttle buses, free baggage collection services and the staff are always ready to help the passengers with any issues.

Huatugou is not the only airport to embrace passengers from remote areas. In November 2018, the Qinghai Airport Company introduced an initiative in six regional airports, in order to serve their passengers from their doorsteps to the cabin door. The initiative has benefited more than 700,000 people from more than 600 villages and pastoral communities.

According to the officials of the Qinghai Airport Company, the company will continue to make the “herdsman flights” even more accessible so that air travel could be an option for farmers and herdsmen of remote areas who will be guaranteed a convenient, inexpensive, comfortable and pleasant air travel experience.