First ever China-Cuba flight takes off
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.
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”.