Urumqi will add flights to Europe
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.