China's Hainan Airlines debuted the country's first direct flight linking Shanghai with Urumqi, the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Turkey's metropolis of Istanbul on Monday.

The carrier will offer twice-weekly flights from Shanghai's Pudong International Airport to Istanbul, with Urumqi acting as a layover for the flights, according to Hainan Airlines.

Chen Ming, president of Hainan Airlines, said the route is expected to boost cultural and economic cooperation between China and Turkey

Hainan Airlines began operating in 1993 in southern China's Hainan Province. The carrier is China's fourth-largest and operates 30 international routes.

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