Urumqi Air, the first airline based in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, made its maiden flight on Friday.
It flew from the region’s capital Urumqi to the western city of Yining that borders Kazakhstan.
Starting on Saturday, there will be two round-trip flights every day between Urumqi and Yining.
The carrier currently boasts three Boeing 737-800 aircraft and it is expected to add three to four trunk airliners before the end of 2015.
The airline plans to develop trunk routes between Urumqi and destinations like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, while also developing additional regional routes within Xinjiang Autonomous Region.
In the long term, it hopes to develop international routes to Central Asia and even Europe, Urumqi Air president Cen Jianjun said.
Urumqi Air got its operation license on Thursday. It has a registered capital of 3 billion yuan (487 million U.S. dollars), with Hainan Airlines Co. Ltd., the country’s fourth-largest carrier, contributing 70 percent of the investment.
Urumqi City Construction Investment Co., Ltd., a local government-owned investment company, held the remaining 30-percent stake.
While 49 airlines operate flights in the region, Urumqi Air is the first to set up shop in the area.
Urumqi International Airport handled 15.4 million passengers in 2013, up 15.1 percent year-on-year. In the first four months of 2014, all airports in Xinjiang Autonomous Region saw a total of 6.75 million passenger movements, a year-on-year increase of 19 percent.
Report compiled with information from China Daily and Xinhua