By the end of last year, direct flights have connected the Chinese mainland and 40 countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. The air transport capacity reached 33 million seats in total, a 21.1 percent increase year-on-year, according to a newly released report.
Last year, 255 direct flights between airports in the Chinese mainland and overseas airports were launched, including 200 direct flights that connected the Chinese mainland and the countries and regions participating in the Belt and Road Initiative.
In those flights, 162 connected the Chinese mainland and Southeast Asian countries, and 31 connected the Chinese mainland and Eastern Europe, according to research by air data provider VariFlight Big Data Research Institute.
Thailand, Vietnam and Russia saw the largest number of newly launched flights with the Chinese mainland, with 44 new flights to Thailand, 38 to Vietnam and 30 to Russia.
Among the total flights connecting the Chinese mainland and the Belt and Road Initiative countries and regions, those flights to Southeast Asian countries accounted for 77.2 percent of the total capacity, up 1.1 percent over the previous year.
Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia were the top three countries that witnessed the highest capacities for the flights with the Chinese mainland. In 2017, there were 175 direct flights between the Chinese mainland and Thailand, including 44 newly launched flights, and the capacity climbed 12.3 percent year-on-year.
Nepal, Laos and Cambodia saw the fastest capacity growth. Last year, the capacities of direct flights between the Chinese mainland and these countries jumped 115.8 percent for Nepal, 74 percent for Laos and 65.6 percent for Cambodia.
Meanwhile, the capacity of direct flights between the Chinese mainland and Russia reached 1.79 million seats, exceeding that of the United Arab Emirates, which is 16.1 million seats.
Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Sichuan Airlines all significantly increased their capacities to Nepal in the second half of 2017. Tibet Airlines also launched direct flights between Chengdu and Nepal, as well as Xi’an and Nepal.