First ever China-Cuba flight takes off

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By JACK FREIFELDER in New York jack­freifelder@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The first direct flight be­tween Beijing and Ha­vana could serve to pro­mote tourism and sev­eral other in­dus­tries be­tween China and Cuba, ac­cord­ing to Zhang Tuo, Chi­nese am­bas­sador to Cuba.

Zhang said that Cuba is now in a po­si­tion to make the most of that mar­ket.

Air China, China’s sec­ond-largest car­rier by num­ber of des­ti­na­tions, started its direct ser­vice be­tween Beijing and Ha­vana on Sun­day.

Cuban of­fi­cials ex­pressed hope that the flight would ben­e­fit both coun­tries so­cially and eco­nom­i­cally.

Al­berto Je­sus Fer­nado Silva, the Cuban am­bas­sador to China, said dur­ing the cer­e­mony in Beijing on Sun­day that Cuba and China have a “long-run­ning friend­ship”.

The flight will draw more tourists and Chi­nese busi­nessper­sons to the is­land, Silva said.

From Jan­uary to Novem­ber 2015, 25,777 Chi­nese trav­el­ers vis­ited Cuba, a 16.5 per­cent in­crease year-over-year, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from the Cuban gov­ern­ment.

More than 3 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional trav­el­ers vis­ited Cuba through Oc­to­ber, an in­crease of 17.6 per­cent from the same pe­riod a year ago, ac­cord­ing to Cuba’s Tourism Min­istry.

Fox News re­ported on Sun­day that the Air China route is the first to link China and the Caribbean, as well as the first direct link be­tween China and Latin Amer­ica op­er­ated by an Asian air­line.

There al­ready are

flights from China to Mex­ico and Brazil avail­able on other car­ri­ers.

The nearly 20-hour-flight aboard the Boe­ing 777-300ER, which stops to re­fuel in Mon­treal, will be of­fered three times a week (Tues­day, Fri­day and Sun­day) from Beijing Cap­i­tal In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Wang Yinx­i­ang, vice-chair­man of Air China, said Sun­day that eco­nomic ties be­tween China and Cuba have got­ten “in­creas­ingly closer” in re­cent years.

Xin­hua con­trib­uted to this re­port.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Of­fi­cials from Air China and Cuba at­tend a launch cer­e­mony for the first-ever direct air ser­vice be­tween Beijing and Ha­vana, cap­i­tal of Cuba. Cuban Am­bas­sador to China Al­berto Je­sus Fer­nando Silva said Cuba and China had “a long-run­ning friend­ship”.

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