China's Hainan Airlines will inaugurate a direct flight from Xi'an to Rome on Dec. 9 to link the starting and end point of the ancient Silk Road by air, sources with the company said at a press conference in Xi'an on Tuesday.
This new route will connect Xi'an, the capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, with Rome, capital of Italy. The route will run every Wednesday and Saturday with Airbus A330. In 2014, Italy received over 1.5 million Chinese visitors, said Massimo Gaudiano, first secretary at the Embassy of Italy in China, at the conference.
The direct flight will provide a new chance for the exchanges between the two ancient civilizations, he said. The new air route is one of several new flights by Hainan Airlines related to the "Belt and Road Initiative," a China-proposed initiative to construct the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, said Hu Yi, chief marketing officer of the Hainan Airlines.
The Silk Road refers to the land trade route opened when Zhang Qian was sent west on a diplomatic mission more than 2,000 years ago. Starting from Xi'an, the ancient Silk Road ran through northwest China's Gansu Province and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and Central and Western Asia, before reaching the Mediterranean.
Hainan Airlines will launch two more direct flights on Dec. 23 from Xi'an to Sydney, and from Xi'an to Tokyo respectively, according to Hu.