URUMQI, June 19 (Xinhua) -- An air route was launched Tuesday to link the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou to Vienna via Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, marking the first direct flight between Urumqi and a western European city.
The flight took off at 9:30 a.m. from Guangzhou, arrived in Urumqi at 2:40 p.m. for a 90-minute layover and landed in Vienna at 5:30 p.m. local time. The return flight will leave Vienna at 6:55 p.m. local time, arrive in Urumqi at 7:55 a.m. the next day and get into Guangzhou at 2:35 p.m. local time.
The flight, operated by China Southern Airlines, will fly every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. It will shorten the travel time between northwestern China and Austria to about only seven hours, according to Qu Guangji, executive deputy general manager of the Xinjiang branch of the airlines.
Austria has become a popular tourist destination for Chinese people. The number of Chinese tourists visiting Austria topped 970,000 last year, according to Gabriele GIL-FEIGL, Charge d'affaires of the Austrian Embassy in China.
"The opening of the new air route will boost tourism in both countries," she added.
Currently, Urumqi has launched international flights to 20 cities of 13 countries.