Manzhouli Airport, on the Russian border in China's Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, offered its first scheduled international service to Russia's Chita, according to the Shipping Gazette.
The service is operated by Hainan Airlines, using Boeing 737-800, offers two flights per week on Thursday and Sunday to Chita some 200 miles north by northwest. It takes off from Manzhouli at 1120 hrs, arrives at Chita at 1220 hrs, returns at 1420 hrs and reaches Manzhouli at 1520 hrs.
Long a major army base, the Chita is a city of 316,643 people, and was a famous place of Russian exile to Siberia, and widely known as the "City of Exiles". Many exiles were intellectuals, and Chita became an educational centre, giving it a regional advantage as a trading centre helped further by the presence of natural resources such as timber, gold and uranium.
Manzhouli, pop. 300,000, has long been a major Chinese trading portal with Russia. Trains from Beijing to Moscow on the Trans-Manchurian branch of the Trans-Siberian Railway pass through. A break of gauge multi-modal transshipment facility was completed in 2008 across the Russian border.
Highway and railway links used to be the only transport between Manzhouli and Chita. It took seven to eight hours by driving and more than 10 hours by rail. Manzhouli airport recorded 11 million tonnes of cargo and 76,000 passengers during the first half of year.