Urumqi becoming aviation hub


Efforts to transform Urumqi into an aviation hub have borne fruit since China Southern Airlines increased the number of its flights linking the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region with Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, at the end of May.

The number of the airline's flights from Urumqi Diwopu International Airport between the two cities has risen from two to three per week, further expanding ties between Xinjiang and the Central Asian country.

Li Chengxin, an executive with the Xinjiang branch of China Southern Airlines, said the carrier — one of the country's three major airlines — has ferried nearly 50,000 passengers in its two international flights from Urumqi to Astana and Almaty since the beginning of the year, a year-on-year increase of more than 380 percent.

"Nearly 58 percent of the passengers from those cities transfer through Urumqi to other cities and destinations, highlighting Urumqi's hub position," Li said. "With the continuous improvement of Xinjiang's level of opening-up to the outside world, the international air passenger transport market has seen significant growth."

The progress is a result of the joint signing of the Strategic Cooperation Framework Agreement for the Construction of the Urumqi International Aviation Hub in 2023 by China Southern Airlines, the Xinjiang government and the China Air Transport Association, he said.

According to Li, China Southern Airlines has opened direct international flights from Xinjiang to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Georgia, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Vietnam and Russia, with a maximum of 40 overseas flights per week as of the end of May.

The airline has handled more than 180,000 international passengers this year, a year-on-year increase of nearly 200 percent. It is still working to optimize flight schedules, make two-way transfers between domestic flights and international/regional flights more convenient and improve transfer efficiency in Urumqi, he said.

This summer, the carrier will increase the number of all its flights at the Urumqi airport to nearly 2,100 a week, a year-on-year increase of more than 40 percent. This will help boost the number of international passengers transiting through Urumqi to nearly 100,000, an increase of more than 500 percent year-on-year, he said.

In addition to the growing passenger transportation market, international freight logistics is spiking in Xinjiang. A batch of over 500 kilograms of cherries arrived in Urumqi from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on May 17. And 2 metric tons of laptops from Guangzhou, Guangdong province, successfully arrived in Almaty via Urumqi on May 28.



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