China’s state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), has granted permission for an RMB42.1bn ($6.06bn) expansion project of Urumqi Airport (URC) in Xinjiang.

Urumqi is an important centre in China’s Belt and Road initiative.

Construction of the URC is scheduled to run through to 2030 when the airport is predicted to manage 750,000t of cargo and 63 million passengers per annum, according to NDRC.

By 2015, Urumqi Airport is expected to have 550,000t of cargo pass through per annum.

The expansion plan will also include construction of two additional runways.

In a statement, the NDRC said that the Urumqi expansion will help accommodate the faster growth in the aviation sector in Xinjiang. Furthermore, it is expected to increase the growth of a global aviation hub in the city.

The proposed investment in Urumqi Airport is over half of what is being spent on new mega-airport project known as Daxing International Airport in Beijing. The airport is expected to cost RMB80bn ($11.53bn) and will serve more than 72 million travellers a year by 2025.

At present, the Urumqi Airport operates flights to and from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, and the UAE.

In addition, China Southern Airlines has established a hub in Urumqi.

During the last few years, China has been investing heavily to strengthen infrastructure across the region.

The country is also planning to build more airports driven by surging business travel and tourism. This is backed by a growing middle class in the country.

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