First Direct Flight Connection Between Samarkand and China: A New Chapter in Socio-Economic Relations

Samarkand, one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, located in Uzbekistan, has established its first direct flight connection with China. This development is part of a broader initiative to enhance socio-economic relations between the two nations. Starting from October 16, China Southern Airlines will operate a weekly flight from Urumqi International Airport (URC) to Samarkand International Airport (SKD) using a Boeing 737-800 aircraft with two classes. This new route will be the seventh direct connection between Uzbekistan and China, and uniquely, it will not involve the capital city, Tashkent.


According to Dmitry Martynenko, the commercial director for Air Marakanda, which manages SKD, this new service signifies a crucial advancement in the relationship between Uzbekistan and China. It is expected to foster greater interconnectivity and collaboration between the two countries and create a new economic channel for both business and tourism. Samarkand, established around the eighth century B.C., thrived due to its strategic location on the Silk Road between China and Europe. It continues to be part of China's Belt & Road initiative. In March 2022, the city's airport unveiled a new terminal building worth $80 million, increasing its capacity to handle up to 1,000 passengers per hour.

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Since then, several new international routes have been introduced, including flights from Dubai International Airport by flydubai, and from Abu Dhabi International Airport by Wizz Air Abu Dhabi. Currently, SKD offers nonstop flights to 17 destinations compared to seven in 2019. Urumqi, located in China's far northwest and known as the world's most inland city, already has two weekly flights to Tashkent International Airport (TAS) operated by China Southern. Uzbekistan Airways also serves this route once a week.

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The other four existing routes between Uzbekistan and China all lead to TAS. These include a 4X-weekly flight from Beijing Daxing by China Southern; a 2X-weekly flight from Beijing Capital by Uzbekistan Airways; and a 3X-weekly connection from both Chengdu and Xi’an Xianyang by Loong Air. The new service from China Southern to Samarkand will depart URC every Sunday at 11:20 p.m. and return on Mondays at 1:30 a.m. The return flight is scheduled to allow passengers to connect with the airline's early-morning flights.

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