Urumqi will add flights to Europe

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHONG­NAN in Urumqi zhong­nan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

More in­ter­na­tional air routes be­tween Urumqi and ma­jorci­ties in Western Europe, Egypt and In­dia will be launched in the next decade, of­fi­cials an­nounced Tues­day. The ex­panded ser­vice is ex­pected to strengthen con­nec­tions be­tween the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion and des­ti­na­tions along the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive. Urumqi In­ter­na­tional Air­port op­er­ates 24 di­rect and con­nect­ing in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­ger routes to des­ti­na­tions in Cen­tral Asia, Turkey, Iran, Rus­sia, South Korea and Azer­bai­jan. But it doesn’t pro­vide di­rect ser­vice to Western Europe. De­mand is ris­ing from China’s cen­tral and western re­gions for bet­ter ser­vice to Western and Cen­tral Europe for tourism and busi­ness travel, said Tang Zhanyou, deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral of Urumqi’s govern­ment. “The routes to Western Europe are ex­pected to save a sig­nif­i­cant amount of travel time for pas­sen­gers wish­ing to travel from Xin­jiang to Paris or Frank­furt. Chi­nese pas­sen­gers won’t need to trans­fer in other Euro­pean cities such as Vi­enna or Helsinki be­fore reach­ing their fi­nal des­ti­na­tions in Western and Cen­tral Europe,” Tang said. Air China will launch a Chengdu-Urumqi-Rome route by year’s end fol­low­ing ap­proval from the Civil Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion this month. The city govern­ment will com­plete the con­struc­tion of ter­mi­nal 4 at Urumqi In­ter­na­tional by 2020, which will ex­pand the air­port’s ca­pac­ity by 40 mil­lion pas­sen­gers a year, Tang said. It will be one of the largest air­port ter­mi­nals in western China and will have three run­ways, in­clud­ing one that can han­dle the Air­bus A380 su­per jumbo jet. Urumqi In­ter­na­tional serves as an im­por­tant civil avi­a­tion and air traf­fic hub in western China. It has ex­panded three times since it came into ser­vice in 1973. It is also one of the re­gional hubs for China South­ern Air­lines Co. Feng Hao, an air trans­porta­tion re­searcher at the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion, said both new ter­mi­nal and air routes in Urumqi will con­trib­ute to growth in air cargo, tourism, trade and in­vest­ment busi­ness linked to the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive, as well as cre­at­ing mo­men­tum to im­prove re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity and peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes.

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