Urumqi Diwobao International Airport reopened flights to Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, earlier this year, cutting travel time between the two cities from 13 hours to 3 hours.
The flight is operated jointly by Ariana Afghan Airlines and Xinjiang Guangyuan Hesheng Trading Company. It is the only direct flight between China and Afghanistan.
According to local authorities, the flight was initially opened in 2002 and closed at the end of 2012. After that, passengers between these two countries had to transfer in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or Iran.
According to a staff member from Ariana, some staff members from the company made efforts to reopen the flight route, but they were not successful until Xinjiang Guangyuan Hesheng came to help.
Ma Chao, general manager of Xinjiang Guangyuan Hesheng Trading Company, said that Ariana did not have the capabilities to reopen the flight by itself so it teamed up with the Xinjiang-based airline operator.
Guangyuan decided to reopen the flight route due to the company’s business requirements.
“It’s a very big challenge for a private enterprise like Guangyuan to operate a flight route,” said Ma.
Thanks to the support from Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region government, the direct flight line between Urumqi and Ariana was reopened. From Ma’s point of view, the reopening of the flight route is complied with the close relationship between China and Afghanistan.