LAHORE: The biggest Asian airline, China Southern Airlines (CSA), has announced starting its flight operations from Lahore to Urumqi from Thursday (today). It has also planned to operate flights between Lahore and Guangzhou from August.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony on Wednesday, Acting Consul General of China in Lahore, Wang Daxue, termed the opening of this new airway as the ‘Air Silk Route’. He highlighted that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative was all about connectivity, people-to-people contact and cultural exchange. “The initiative has numerous opportunities for both nations,” he added.
He highlighted that Urumqi, being the third-largest international transfer hub, is the west gateway of China to the world. It enjoys the geographic advantage of flying to midwest Asia and Europe. The CSA operates over 2,000 flights daily to 224 destinations in 40 countries and regions in the world. The route network of the CSA reaches 1,062 destinations in 177 countries by joining the SkyTeam Airline Alliance.
Air China announces increase in flights for Pakistan
On behalf of the Punjab government, Lahore Deputy Commissioner Sumair Ahmad Syed hailed the Chinese airline for starting operations from the second largest city of Pakistan. Urumqi is a major economic hub and gateway to China.
Direct flights from Lahore to Urumqi will reduce travel time and provide an alternative route to Pakistani businessmen, especially those based in Punjab.
CSA Deputy General Manager Feng Yuejun said CSA has become the first Chinese airline that is starting flight operations from Lahore. The airline operates a massive fleet of over 660 aircraft, which is ranked first in Asia and third in the world.
It is the first airline that operates the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 at the same time. It has the most developed route network and the largest passenger capacity of any airline in China.
He pointed out that CSA had opened the Urumqi to Islamabad route in 1994 and this remained operational for 24 years. During this period, the airline maintained bilateral relations and operated flights without suspension. The airline gradually increased its flight frequency and offered convenient air bridge between two countries in economic trade and personnel exchange.
He highlighted that the first flight (CZ6017) from Urumqi will land at Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore, on Thursday (today). The opening of round-trip route of Urumqi-Lahore will create the first air channel between China and Punjab province — the biggest province both in terms of economy and population in Pakistan.
Yuejun further indicated that with a powerful route network of the CSA, passengers can transfer to about 30 other Chinese inland cities, like Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai.
They can also travel to the international destinations of Australia, Europe, America, Southeast Asia, Japan and Korea via the Urumqi hub. The CSA provides quality and convenient transfer services both at Urumqi and Guangzhou hubs, which includes a transfer lounge, free accommodation of overnight transfer flights, English and Russian language service groups etc.
He underlined that CSA, as the passage over Karakorum which is part of CPEC, would launch a series of preferential policies to help the people in Pakistan and China enjoy the most convenient air trip at the cheapest fares. “We aim to make this route a witness of friendship and cooperation between China and Pakistan,” he concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2018.
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