China’s Hainan Airlines has been given permission to establish Urumqi Airlines, a new carrier based in the country’s northwest Xinjiang region.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China announced on its website last week that it has approved the new venture, which will be jointly founded by Hainan Airlines and Urumqi Urban Construction Investment Co Ltd, a state-run company based in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi.
The new carrier will have registered capital of US $489 million, with Hainan Airlines investing 70 percent of the total amount.

The new carrier will be based at Urumqi’s Diwobao International Airport and will initially operate a fleet of Boeing 737 jets, Travel Daily Media reported. It plans to serve domestic and regional international routes, plus Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, from Urumqi. Due to the location of Urumqi, in the far west of China, the airline is likely to develop a strong network in Central Asia.

Zhang Jingsheng, general manager of Hainan Airlines’ Xinjiang branch, will lead the new carrier. Pilots, maintenance personnel, cabin crew and other staff will initially be sourced from Hainan Airlines.

Urumqi Airlines marks the latest of HNA Group’s many airline subsidiaries, which include Hainan Airlines, Grand China Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, Lucky Air, West Air, and Yangtze River Express.

The company currently operates more than 400 aircraft on over 570 domestic and international routes, carrying 42 million passengers to 190 cities worldwide a year. In 2012, HNA Group handled approximately 13 percent of the air passenger traffic in China.
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