Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Business / Industries

Urumqi aims to soar as BRI aviation hub

China Daily | Updated: 2023-07-27 10:30
Share - WeChat
A jet arrives at Tashkurgan Khunjerab Airport in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. The airport, which opened in December, is China's westernmost and Xinjiang's first high-plateau airport. [Photo/Xinhua]

URUMQI — Nailul Husnah, an executive with Garuda Indonesia airline, flew thousands of kilometers to Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region from Indonesia for the first time. It was a long but fruitful trip.

"Vast and amazing," she said, marveling at the mountains, canyons, deserts, oases and cities she saw from above after her flight entered Xinjiang.

She went on to add that while her company has yet to launch flights to Xinjiang, it recognizes the vast potential and promising prospects in this region.

Husnah was one of over 500 delegates attending the Urumqi International Aviation Hub Construction Forum held early this month, with the theme "aviation hub connects Asia and Europe, openness and sincerity for win-win cooperation".

Representatives from major global aviation companies, domestic and foreign civil aviation administrations and airports gathered in the regional capital Urumqi to exchange ideas on developing the civil aviation industry along the Belt and Road.

The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by China 10 years ago has brought unprecedented opportunities for Xinjiang, a region located at the heart of the ancient Silk Road.

According to Xinjiang Airport Group Co Ltd, at present, there are 25 civil transport airports in Xinjiang, topping China's provincial-level regions. It is estimated that the number of airports in use and under construction will reach 33 by the end of 2025.

Gateway links East, west

"Urumqi has great potential to become an important transportation hub," said Alvin Liu, executive vice-president of Boeing China, adding that the BRI envisions interconnection and common prosperity, opening a gate for cooperation.

"We are committed to supporting new air routes here and will offer support to transform Urumqi into a prosperous gateway where East meets West," Liu said in an interview.

According to Liu, Boeing provides about 66 percent of available seats in terms of passenger traffic volume at the Urumqi Diwopu International Airport.

George Xu, CEO of Airbus China, said Urumqi's location advantage enables many flight carriers to reduce costs, achieve higher efficiency and become more competitive.

Airbus acknowledges that Urumqi has the potential to play the role of a hub connecting Europe, Central Asia and West Asia with East Asia, he added.

According to data from Xinjiang Airport Group Co Ltd, passenger flights have linked Urumqi with 23 international destinations, while five regular air cargo routes have connected the city with Central and West Asia.

The flight network has to a large extent facilitated personnel exchanges and cargo movements. In the first six months of this year, Urumqi's airport handled a throughput of more than 10 million passengers. The foreign trade volume of Xinjiang reached 125.1 billion yuan ($17.5 billion) from January to May, up 85.9 percent year-on-year, according to Urumqi Customs.

Deeper cooperation

The C919, China's self-developed large passenger aircraft that began regular operation between Shanghai and Chengdu in Sichuan province, also contributes to Urumqi's building of an aviation hub on the Belt and Road.

"The maximum flight range for the C919 exceeds 5,550 kilometers. This means C919 flights departing from Urumqi can not only fly to all cities in China, but also Central Asia and even Eastern Europe," said Wu Guanghui, chief scientist at Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd and an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

During this forum, the Silk Road Civil Aviation Cooperation Alliance was also inaugurated. This alliance comprises various members including airlines, civil airports, aircraft and equipment manufacturers, cultural and tourism enterprises, financial institutions and trade associations from China and other countries and regions along the Silk Road.

Initiated by the China Air Transport Association, the alliance aims to further deepen civil aviation cooperation among BRI participants and will take aviation business as a link to promote cooperation among multiple parties, said Wang Changshun, chairman of CATA.

During the forum, executives from domestic and international airline companies, such as China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, made commitments to support the development of Urumqi as an aviation hub on the Belt and Road.

"We strongly support the construction of the Urumqi international aviation hub and are willing to establish close cooperative relations with the Urumqi airport," said Badral Erdenebaatar, general manager of the Beijing branch office of MIAT Mongolian Airlines.


Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349