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31 Aug, 2014

Urumqi Air makes maiden flight

BEIJING, Aug. 29, (Xinhua) — Urumqi Air, the first airline based in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, made its maiden flight on Friday, from the region’s capital Urumqi to the western city of Yining which borders Kazakhstan.

Starting on Saturday, there will be two round-trip flights every day between Urumqi and Yining.

The carrier currently boasts three Boeing 737-800 aircraft and it is expected to add three to four trunk airliners before the end of 2015.

In its early stage, the airline plans to develop trunk routes between Urumqi and destinations like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. It also aimed to develop additional regional routes within Xinjiang.

In the long term, it hopes to develop international routes to Central Asia and even Europe, Urumqi Air president Cen Jianjun said.

Urumqi Air got its operation license on Thursday. It has a registered capital of 3 billion yuan (487 million U.S. dollars), with Hainan Airlines Co. Ltd., the country’s fourth-largest carrier, contributing 70 percent of the investment.

Urumqi City Construction Investment Co., Ltd., a local government-owned investment company, held the remaining 30-percent stake.

Xinjiang’s booming aviation market and favorable location have made it a new front for many domestic and foreign airlines. Forty-nine airlines have operate flights in the region.

Urumqi International Airport handled 15.4 million passengers in 2013, up 15.1 percent year on year. In the first four months of this year, all airports in Xinjiang saw a total of 6.75 million passenger movements, a year-on-year increase of 19 percent.