SHENZHEN Airport has launched its first international scheduled flight with the inaugural China Southern Airlines passenger service to Singapore. China Southern's first Singapore flight took off without a hitch, carrying a full load of 200 passengers. A new air services agreement between Singapore and China, signed last month, paved the way for China Southern to begin regular Boeing 757 flights to Changi International Airport. The Guangdong-based carrier had originally set April 28 as the official launch date for the new service, following a string of earlier delays. But it is understood the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) had pressed China Southern to postpone its new service to Changi until Singapore's flag carriers, Singapore Airlines and Silk Air, finalised what flying rights into China they would take up in return. The carrier will now operate a regular weekly flight to Singapore from Shenzhen, departing on Sunday morning and returning later the same day. Air China now plans to begin its planned Beijing-Shenzhen-Singapore service on May 23, ahead of schedule. Its B767 service will depart Shenzhen for Singapore on Sunday and Thursday, returning on Monday and Friday. Shenzhen airport is now connected to Hongkong by six daily jetfoil services and nine daily Citybus services. Under the air services agreement signed between Singapore and China, each country may designate any number of airlines to operate up to 14 weekly B767 passenger flights and two weekly B767 freighter flights, or their equivalent. This will be increased to 20 weekly passenger services and four weekly freight flights from January. More than 20 foreign airlines have held talks on using the airport, but none seems very close to beginning operations. Freight carrier Cargolux of Luxembourg had intended to be the first, but put its provisional launch date back from April to the third quarter of this year. It has been disappointed by what it sees as a lack of adequate cargo storage facilities at the airport. This is something airport management have been hastily trying to put right. Singapore Airlines has also been exploring the possibility of operating an air freight service out of Shenzhen.