BEIJING - All Uygur pilots serving the country's airlines were working normally in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and none had ever been relocated to work for other airlines outside the northwest region.
Li Jian, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) deputy director, on Tuesday dismissed foreign media stories that Uygur pilots had been suspended from their jobs as "sheer fake reports."
To date, Chinese airlines have employed three Uygur pilots. Two of them, Aikebaier Maimaiti and Ailiyiming Niyazi, served as Boeing 757 captains for the Xinjiang branch of China Southern Airlines, while the third, Dulihong, worked with the Xinjiang General-use Airlines.
Aikebaier Maimaiti recently completed a two-way international flight between Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, and Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, on Tuesday morning. He told Xinhua in a phone interview, "Since August 1, I have flown 36.05 hours on routes between Urumqi and Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Xi'an."
On Wednesday morning, he will fly between Urumqi and Islamabad, Pakistan.
Ailiyiming Niyazi told Xinhua he had flown safely for a total of 17,542 hours. Since August 1, he had worked on routes between Urumqi and Hotan, Xiamen, Shenzhen, Zhengzhou and Changsha.
All pilots, no matter whether they were Uygur or Han people, had to work according to schedule. It was normal that sometimes they worked on flights outside Xinjiang, said Zhang Zifang, China Southern Airlines deputy general manager.