Huizhou , a fast-growing mainland city, is getting to play a bigger role in Beijing’s Greater Bay Area and Belt and Road Initiative plans. Shanghai-based Juneyao Air has launched a new route connecting Huizhou to Hulunbuir in Inner Mongolia, with a stopover in Changsha, capital of Hunan province in central China, linking the bay area city with the autonomous region in northern China. The route will also provide a further boost to Hulunbuir as it is a relatively important trading bridge connecting Russia and Mongolia, two countries that figure prominently in the Belt and Road Initiative , Beijing’s global infrastructure investment plan that links China with dozens of countries in Asia, Europe and Africa. The new route can bring tourists to Inner Mongolia city, known for its natural beauty such as grasslands and lakes, while boosting cargo movement between the Greater Bay Area and cities and countries in the north, said Diao Weimin, a professor at the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China. “These three cities [Huizhou, Changsha and Hulunbuir] connecting with each other can facilitate cargo, logistics and trade between the Greater Bay Area and the middle and eastern parts of China.” The new route also comes at at a time when Chinese carriers are looking forward to the summer season, a busy travel period. Chinese airlines in recent months have resumed and launched various new routes domestically and unveiled discounted flight packages, as demand for international travel has come to a near standstill because of the coronavirus pandemic . Huizhou looks to upgrade its industrial mix as it eyes key role in Greater Bay Area The domestic market, however, has still not recovered to the same level as last year. In the first six months, air passenger volume in China stood at 150 million, 45.8 per cent of the level a year earlier, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on Friday. Qi Qi, an associate professor at Guangzhou Civil Aviation College, said the route between Huizhou and Hulunbuir is mainly aimed at tourists. “Because Juneyao Air is unable to launch routes from Shenzhen , it set the base [for the new route] in Huizhou,” Qi said, adding that the next few months are usually the peak season for tourists from the Greater Bay Area to northern provinces such as Inner Mongolia as schools break for the summer holidays. “The direct flight from Huizhou to Hulunbuir is too long, so a stopover in Changsha may have something to do with subsidies, that’s why the route is from Huizhou to Changsha, then to Hulunbuir.” The twice daily flights will be able to carry 2,660 passengers and a few tonnes of cargo each week.