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Airlines to expand with Belt & Road

LUO WANGSHU
Updated: Mar 26,2017 7:28 AM     China Daily

Domestic and foreign airlines plan to open more than 100 new international routes linking China with regions along the Belt and Road Initiative in the coming aviation season, the country’s top civil aviation watchdog announced on March 24.

“During the coming season, domestic airlines plan to open 70 new routes to facilitate transportation between China and cities along the Belt and Road Initiative, mostly in Russia, countries in Central, Southeastern and Southern Asia, as well as the southern Pacific Ocean region,” said a release from the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Meanwhile, international airlines will open 35 international routes, 34 of which link China with places along the initiative, mostly in 10 countries such as Russia, Thailand and Vietnam, according to the administration’s transport department.

The 2017 summer and autumn civil aviation season will start on March 26 and end on Oct 28, the release said.

Air China, the country’s flagship carrier, announced on March 24 that it will open a new international route between Beijing and Astara, capital of Kazakhstan. The new route, to begin in June, will have three flights every week. Two other international routes will be opened between China and cities in Europe by Air China.

“The opening of these new routes will help establish a new air network between China, Central Asia and Europe, benefiting economic and trade exchanges between China and economies along the initiative,” Air China said.

The initiative, put forward by President Xi Jinping in 2013, aims to revive ancient trade routes with a focus on infrastructure and trade. The initiative is expected to boost the economy and further enhance communication among economies.

Feng Zhenglin, director of the Civil Aviation Administration of China, said earlier this month that the initiative is a major State strategy and the civil aviation sector will actively provide service for the development plan.

“China has signed bilateral aviation transportation agreements with 61 countries along the Belt and Road Initiative and has already opened flights with 43 countries,” he said.

Ma Xulun, general manager of China Eastern Airlines, said earlier this month that he suggested China open flights to all economies along the initiative and form a comprehensive air network.

Such a rapid increase of international air routes caters to the expanding personnel and cargo exchanges between China and countries along the Belt and Road Initiative.

China’s total value of trade with countries along the initiative was about $953 billion last year, according to the State Information Center. That accounted for 25.7 percent of China’s foreign trade, up 0.4 percentage points year-on-year.

The Ministry of Science and Technology and some other ministries have also released plans to enhance personnel exchanges between China and economies along the initiative.

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