DUBAI, May 3 (Xinhua) -- Dubai's state-owned Emirates Airline on Tuesday launched its first direct flight from the Gulf Arab emirate to Yinchuan, the capital of China's Ningxia Autonomous Region.
The Boeing 777-200LR took off at 2:45 a.m. Dubai local time (2245GMT Monday) and landed less than seven hours at Yinchuan's international airport.
The plane will later depart for Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province in central east China, for the first time, marking the Emirates' fifth destination in China's mainland.
Emirates' newest destination in China will be served four times a week. Yinchuan and Zhengzhou are two of the fastest growing cities in China.
On board the flight No. EK326 were Emirates Group Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum and Chief Executive Sheikh Majid Al-Mualla as well as many executive managers of Emirates and business leaders from Dubai.
"This new route will provide citizens in both cities with convenient and fast connections to destinations in the Middle East, Africa and Europe," Sheikh Ahmed told a joint press conference with Chairman of Ningxia Autonomous Region Liu Hui.
Currently serving 54 cities in 30 of the 65 countries identified as part of China's Belt and Road Initiative, Emirates is positioned to support China in advancing its trade and investment links with these countries, he added.
Emirates also flies from Dubai non-stop to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. It now offers a total of 39 flights per week from its home airport Dubai to China.
In 2015, Emirates carried more than 1.3 million passengers and 106,000 tons of cargo on its China services. In 2015, Chinese visitors to Dubai increased by 29 percent over the previous year to 450,000.
Earlier in March, Dubai's Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al-Maktoum said China was Dubai's leading trading partner in 2015 with a volume of 47.95 billion U.S. dollars.
Almost 300,000 Chinese citizens now live and work in the UAE, along with over 4,000 Chinese companies, according to the UAE Ministry of Economy.