Northwest China's Xi’an opens two new air routes to Central Asia ahead of high-level summit
Published: May 14, 2023 10:12 PM
Photo: Courtesy of China Southern Airlines

Photo: Courtesy of China Southern Airlines

Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, is launching air routes to Turkmenistan and Tajikistan to further lift connectivity and promote economic and trade exchanges between China and Central Asian countries. The move, which comes ahead of a high-level summit this week, will further advance high-quality Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation between the two sides, experts said.

Xi 'an Xianyang International Airport opened a route to Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, on Saturday and will open a route to Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan, on May 18, the Xinhua News Agency reported. This means Xi 'an, the starting point of the ancient Silk Road and the host city of the upcoming China-Central Asia Summit, has passenger air routes to all the five Central Asian countries.

The Xi 'an-Urumqi-Ashgabat route will be operated every Saturday. The Xi'an-Urumqi-Dushanbe route will be operated every Thursday.

Li Jiuquan, deputy general manager of the Xi 'an branch of China Southern Airlines Co, which manages the two routes, said that most of the people on this flight are business passengers and demand is likely to increase.

Since the beginning of 2023, Chinese airlines have actively participated in the expansion of passenger routes between Xi 'an and Central Asia countries and opened passenger routes to Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan, Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan's capital city Astana.

The improved connectivity between Xi 'an and the cities of Central Asian countries is of great significance to promote economic and trade ties, tourism and people-to-people exchanges prompted by the BRI, experts said.

In 2022, two-way trade between China and the five Central Asian countries reached a record high of $70.2 billion. By the end of 2022, China's direct investment stock in the five Central Asian countries had reached nearly $15 billion.

The China-Central Asia Summit will be held on Thursday and Friday in Xi'an where fruitful, comprehensive results are expected to be realized in multiple areas, said experts.

In terms of economic cooperation, Liang Haiming, dean of Hainan University Belt and Road Research Institute, told the Global Times on Sunday that China and Central Asian countries have the potential to further deepen their collaboration in building free trade zones and deep-level financial cooperation.

For example, as Kazakhstan is planning to build an international financial center in Astana, China can carry out in-depth cooperation with Kazakhstan in the fields of internet finance, financial intermediation, big data and advanced financial technology, Liang said.