More Chinese airlines are finding it attractive to serve the Gulf sector with the number of passengers increasing by the month and the strengthened trade relations between the UAE and China.
The latest to join the bandwagon is China Eastern Airline (CEA), which started flying to Dubai yesterday.
CEA is the fourth Chinese airline to operate between the two countries.
The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing said the number of Chinese tourists visiting Dubai this year was 150,000, an increase 50 per cent over the previous year.
Most of these travellers are businessmen coming to the emirate for trade. This figure is expected to increase during the festive season around February-March.
The rising number of Chinese flying to Dubai has led several Chinese airlines to increase flights to Dubai.
The CEA officials yesterday announced they would initially operate three flights per week between Kunming in China and Dubai – on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. The airline is using 260-seater Boeing 767-300 aircraft to connect these destinations, an official statement said.
A Dubai airport official said, "The number of flights between the two countries could increase to four flights per week."
Dubai International Airport in December 2009 handled more than 3.8 million passengers compared to 3.3 million in 2008. The number of passengers increased by 14.5 per cent, said an official spokesperson for the Dubai airport. A substantial percentage of the total international visitors to Dubai are from China.
Li Hanbai, Vice-Governer, Yunnan Province, located in southwest China, was part of a delegation that flew into Dubai for the launch.
"This [commencement of more flights between Dubai-China] marks an important footnote in bilateral relations between the two economies – China and the UAE. Now more businessmen can travel easily to the UAE from China and vice versa," he told journalists. Before the opening of Kunming-Dubai air route, tourists travelling from China to Dubai had to fly from Shanghai via Beijing or Gangzhou, said an official release by CEA.
"This would cost them two hours extra. The opening of Kunming-Dubai route would enrich the structure of airways connecting China and the UAE and furnish the quickest air passage for people traveling to Dubai from Northwest, East and Central and South China," the statement added. The Kunming-Dubai flight, including a halt at Dhaka in Bangladesh, will take about seven hours.
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