KABUL, May 28 (Xinhua) -- A direct flight route linking Afghanistan and China resumed on Wednesday, following three years of suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The flights between the Afghan capital Kabul and the northwestern Chinese city of Urumqi were operated by Afghan flag carrier Ariana Afghan Airlines. The airline relaunched its passenger air services to Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, once in a week on Wednesday and return to Kabul on the same day.
Afghans are sanguine about the development of the route, which is expected to enhance trade and economic relations between Afghanistan and the world's second largest economy, as Afghan businesses eye flow of investment in the war-torn nation.
"We consider this flight as a good omen for enhancing bilateral relations. We want to sign an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Urumqi's commercial authorities to set up procedures for boosting trade between the two countries," Mohammad Younus Mohmand, head of Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment, told a press conference at Kabul airport.
"I am sure that the flight resumption will improve our trade," he added.
Data from the General Administration of Customs of China showed that bilateral trade between the two neighbors in 2022 exceeded 40 billion yuan (5.67 billion U.S. dollars).
"I also invite Chinese investors to invest in natural resources in Afghanistan. We want to process our natural resources inside Afghanistan. Therefore, we request Chinese investors to work with us so that we can use their experience and solve the economic problem of Afghanistan," said Mohmand, who is also a businessman.
Afghanistan's export to China mostly includes carpet, pine nut and saffron. According to Sayed Bilal Farooqi, a member of the Afghanistan Carpet Union, the country exports 10,000 square meters of carpet to China annually and the volume of trade to China would increase with flight resumption to Urumqi.
Ghulam Jilani Wafa, deputy head of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation, also hailed the flight resumption to China.
"Opening the air corridor would have a direct positive impact on trade and economic relations between Afghanistan and China," he said.
"I am excited about the resumption of flights between Urumqi and Kabul, and I am sure it will contribute to economic growth, as well as political and social relations between the two countries," Wafa said.
"The resumption of flights will enhance our economic, political and social relations with China," another official Hafiz Sibghatullah said.
Opening air corridors, according to Afghans, could better help the landlocked, impoverished country develop its economy.
Welcoming the resumed flight route, Kabul International Airport's chief Abdul Hadi Mohammad has assured the international community of restored peace in Afghanistan, and called for more flight resumption to Kabul.
Produced by Xinhua Global Service