In a recent turn of events, China’s state planner has reportedly approved the airport expansion project worth $6.06 billion in Urumqi, capital of western Xinjiang, an important hub of China’s Belt and Road initiative. Data by the National Development and Reform Commission states that the construction would conclude in 2030 when the enlarged airport is estimated to serve about 63 million passengers and 750,000 tons of cargo annually. Furthermore, the expansion includes the development of two additional runways, cite sources.

As per trusted reports, the investment value is more than half of what China is spending to build the giant Daxing International Airport, that is set to cost 80 billion yuan and is estimated to handle 72 million passengers per year by 2025. In recent years, Xinjiang has witnessed new infrastructure and construction projects spring up throughout the region as it is China’s crucial node in President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative. Xi’s multi-billion-dollar initiative focuses on bolstering a sprawling network of land and sea connections with the Asian countries and beyond.

The Urumqi expansion aims to accommodate the rapid growth in Xinjiang’s aviation sector while promoting the development of an international aviation hub in the city, as per the National Development and Reform Commission. According to sources familiar with the development, China is reportedly planning hundreds of airports throughout the country to cater to a market fueled by the increasing business travel and tourism owing to the growing middle-class population. Along similar lines, several inland airports throughout the country like the Zhengzhou and Changsha have also been expanded to cater to the inter-continental routes. Urumqi already serves flights to and from countries like Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates and Russia, cite sources. Reportedly, China’s Southern Airlines, which has recently announced plans to quit the Sky Team airline alliance, also contains a hub in Urumqi.