BEIJING—Intercontinental services to Chinese mainland secondary cities are blossoming, with 12 airports outside of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou now sharing 27 current or firmly planned routes beyond Asia. Chengdu—now officially appointed the role of China’s fourth long-haul gateway—has nine of those routes, as many as the next three rivals combined. As recently as 2011, secondary cities only had four such routes.  In 2006, a KLM service to Amsterdam put ...

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