More flights to connect China’s Xinjiang with Europe, Southeast Asia

Ahead of the tourist season, Chinese airlines opened more international routes between Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Europe and other countries and regions.

China Southern Airlines will open its first route between Xinjiang and the heart of Europe, which starts from South China’s Guangzhou, to Vienna via Urumqi every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday beginning from June 18, cutting travel time from Xinjiang to Europe from around 50 hours by train to seven hours by air, the Xinjiang Daily reported.

The company also launched a direct flight from Urumqi to Tbilisi, capital of Georgia, every Tuesday. China Southern Airlines will offer more flights between Urumqi and Russia.

Starting Saturday, routes linking Urumqi to St. Petersburg will be resumed, and flights between Urumqi to Moscow will be offered on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Sichuan Airlines, in addition to opening the Urumqi-Chongqing-Sydney route, will also optimize the current non-stop flights to Sydney.

Xiamen Airlines, which focuses on island tourism and study tours, will open more routes between Xinjiang and Southeast Asian countries, the Xinjiang Daily reported.

According to a previous editorial by People’s Daily, Xinjiang, as an inland region, used to be considered an isolated place far from the ocean while Urumqi was recognized as the furthest-from-ocean inland city with more than one million people.

However, the geographical value of Xinjiang is obvious – it connects other Chinese provinces to the east and borders Central Asia and Russia to the west, not far from Europe. Xinjiang can be regarded not only as China’s frontline in opening up to the west but also the key point linking the Eurasian continent.

The number of tourists to Xinjiang exceeded 150 million in 2018, up more than 40 percent from the previous year, authorities at the People’s Congress of the region said in January, the Xinhua News Agency reported.