Ordos to be air traffic hub on Belt and Road route

Updated: 2017-09-14 (en.goordos.com) Print


Ordos Ejin Horo International Airport, Inner Mongolia autonomous region

The local airport of Inner Mongolia’s Ordos was renamed Ejin Horo International Airport last year. It is the autonomous region’s fourth and China’s 71st Grade-A airport.

The airport is positioned as an international aviation hub according to a government guideline announcement, which promises good opportunities for the airport and facilitates further opening-up of Inner Mongolia. 

It will also drive the development of neighboring provinces like Shaanxi and Gansu in Northwest China, and serve the national Belt and Road Initiative.

The airport launched two air routes linking the city to Thailand and Russia last year, and announced the opening of its first international air route between Ordos and Daegu in South Korea last April.

In May, the airport started to offer a regular route linking Moscow, Irkutsk, Ordos and Bangkok. The move makes Ordos the first city in North China to open the “fifth freedom” right, or the right to flight extensions, which allows foreign carriers to solicit local air cargo and passengers. 

The new right will also allow Ordos to provide a 72-hour visa-free transit service, which will accelerate its opening up to the world and promote tourism and trade.

The airport now operates 39 international aviation routes connecting the city with 32 cities in China and 7 in South Korea, Thailand and Russia. Thanks to the stopover port service in Xi’an, Shijiazhuang and Tianjin, the number of domestic air routes has increased to 44.

In order to establish itself as an air cargo transfer and distribution center, the airport joined with a Shanghai-based air freight forwarder to launch an all-cargo line between Ordos and Amsterdam.

By the end of the first quarter of this year, the airport had opened 25 routes to 30 tourism cities at home and abroad, such as Beijing, Nanjing, Xiamen and Bangkok.

It has handled 4,132 flights, a passenger volume of 434,521 people and 2,332 tons of cargo, topping its previous record for the same period. The figures represent respective year-on-year increases of 23.2 percent, 25.2 percent and 24.6 percent.

Ordos Airport Administration Group announced that it is planning to open air routes to the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator and the Russian city of Ekaterinburg, and to resume an air route to Hong Kong by 2017.

After that, it aims to open one to two new international lines per year. By the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), it intends to have five regular international or regional routes and to have developed itself into an air traffic hub connecting West China with Mongolia, Russia and Europe.

Early in February, Li Jiheng, Party chief of Inner Mongolia, urged more extensive development of civil aviation, which is sure to have a beneficial effect on many industries.

The airport is using an “aviation plus tourism” model to increase the number and frequency of flights in an air route network, improve safety and services and promote various air travel products to attract high-end tourists and projects.

In accordance with the current all-region trend in tourism, the airport is working with China Eastern Airlines to launch a Northern Air Corridor project.

The idea of all-region tourism was first mentioned in this year's government work report to cater to the country's growing demand for tourism products and services and facilitate economic transition. 

The Northern Air Corridor project, in which Ordos is a junction linking the tourism cities of eastern, western and northern China, was put forward by the airport and China Eastern Airlines to promote air travel.

The airport plans to bring in another three planes from China Eastern Airlines to add to its existing three, and to use them to carry passengers from East and South China to Ordos during the peak season.

The Ordos travel routes can take people to Manchuria and Hailar in the east, Dunhuang, Xining and Lhasa in the west, and Irkutsk, Moscow and Ulan Bator in the north.

“The ‘Northern Air Corridor’ project will make the city a popular tourist destination rather than a stopover. Profound influence will be found in city branding, structure of passenger flow, tourism resources exploitation and the development of tourism,” said the manager of a local travel agency.

Airport Administration Group’s marketing division expects the project to bring a profit of 1 billion yuan to the city.

According to local authorities, Ordos received about 10.41 million visitors in 2016, up 19.9 percent year-on-year. The passenger flow mainly arose from all kinds of international events ranging from the Nadam Fair and Sino-Thai Culture and Tourism Friendship Caravan to a dance carnival and a marathon.

The airport’s “aviation plus tourism” model has been commonly acknowledged by insiders as one of the best feeder-line tourist mechanisms in China.

Last November, Ejin Horo was upgraded into an international airport, which made Ordos a regional transportation hub and boosted local tourism.

Meanwhile, the launch of a bonded zone near the airport will offer fresh opportunities.

The hosting of the ongoing Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNCCD in Ordos this month gave the airport a chance to show off its strengths.

Since the city is speeding up its internationalization in economy, trade, culture and tourism, development of the Ejin Horo International Airport into an aviation hub has become inexorable.

With the advancement of the “Northern Air Corridor” project, Ordos will shine as an aviation searchlight along the Belt and Road.