URUMQI, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, plans to launch more flights to Russia to meet growing passenger traffic.
A direct flight from Urumqi to St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city, will be resumed Saturday after a half-year suspension, according to the Xinjiang branch of China Southern Airlines.
Starting in July, the airlines will use Boeing 787 wide-body aircraft for the flight service, replacing the former Boeing 737, which can provide 265 seats on a single trip, offering passengers a more comfortable journey.
Xinjiang, among the nearest regions in China to Europe, enables flights between Urumqi and most cities in Russia within about five hours, making such flights one of the most economical routes for transit passengers between the two countries.
Currently, cities in Russia including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Sochi are all accessible via flights from Urumqi.
The China-Russia flights via Urumqi have seen passenger load factors on the rise over the years, with the load factors of flights from Urumqi to Moscow always above 70 percent, said He Qiyu, staff of the marketing and sales department of China Southern Airlines' Xinjiang branch.
"The direct flight from Urumqi to Moscow has increased from four shifts a week to one shift per day. The China-Russia routes via Urumqi have also spread to other inland cities in western China, including the Lanzhou-Urumqi-Moscow flight, which departs every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday," He Qiyu said.
Russia is a popular destination among Chinese tourists. The S7 Airlines and Nordwind Airlines of Russia also launched routes from Russian cities, including Novosibirsk, Moscow, and Sochi, to Urumqi this year.