MONTREAL–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dignitaries and top government officials led by the Chinese ambassador to Canada, His Excellency Luo Zhaohui and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre welcomed the arrival of Air China’s inaugural flight, CA 879, from Beijing today. Quebec’s Minister of Trade and Commerce and his delegation returned to Montreal from their trade mission on board the first Beijing-Montreal flight. Minister Jacques Daoust also spoke at the press conference.
Operated by Air China’s new-generation B777-300ER, the new thrice weekly nonstop service connects Montreal not only to Beijing but also to the rest of Asia.
Today’s elaborate welcome ceremonies at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) showed the importance of this new service. It is expected to boost the local economy and tourism industry in the region. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, the total number of trips abroad from China is estimated to have increased by 11 million to 109 million in 2014. China is the largest outbound market since 2012 with a total expenditure of US$ 129 billion in 2013.
“This is a great day for Aéroports de Montréal, a proud moment that we will all remember for a long time to come,” said a beaming James Cherry, the airport authority’s President and CEO, soon after exiting the plane arriving from the Chinese capital. “The direct route between Montréal and Beijing, the very first scheduled transpacific direct link out of Montréal–Trudeau, is a reality at last. China has never been as close as it is today.”
Montreal is the newest in a string of expansions in North America by China’s national carrier. However, it’s only the airline’s second gateway in Canada and the first in more than 20 years after Air China launched its Vancouver service.
“Today we stand on the cusp of history as we become the first airline to connect Montreal, China and Asia directly. We are honored to be the bridge that brings together the people and culture of our two great destinations,” Mr. Wang Yingnian, Air China’s Chief Pilot, said.
“This new service strengthens Air China’s presence in the China-Canada market where there is a robust demand for air travel, especially in Montreal, Canada’s second largest city,” he added.
Featuring state-of-the-art green technology, the B777-300ER delivers better fuel performance and is much quieter than any other aircraft. With a spacious three-cabin interior, ambient lighting and an enhanced entertainment system, the triple seven offers a smooth, comfortable experience. Air China’s B777-300ER features eight luxury suites in the Forbidden Pavilion (first class), 41 fully-flat sleeper seats in the Capital Pavilion (business class) and 259 economy seats with individual TV monitors and in-seat audio-video on demand.
By the end of 2015, Air China will have nonstop services between Beijing and nine gateways in North America: New York (2x daily); Newark (4x/week; Los Angeles (3x daily); San Francisco (daily); Houston (daily); Washington Dulles (4x/week); Honolulu (3x/week); Vancouver (daily) and Montreal (3x/week).
Air Zimbabwe is targeting a return to London and Beijing as soon as this year part of a new push for network growth chief executive Edmund Makona disloses.
Speaking to Flightglobal at the World Routes conference in Durban, the airline boss says the Harare-based carrier will “continue to make efforts to engage the necessary stakeholders so that it comes to fruition by the end of the year”.
Makona says the Zimbabwean flag carrier is in the midst of its “relaunch phase” and says that “at the heart of that strategy is growth so we really intend to grow our route network and very soon we will also be implementing our long-haul routes, London Beijing very soon”.
The airline chief says Air Zimbabwe is currently operating from Harare to Johannesburg, Lusaka, Victoria Falls and Bulawayo. Makona says the the Harare-Joahnnesburg route is the most lucrative in the network.
The African airline currently has eight aircraft of which six are operational says Makona. This includes three Boeing 767s, two 737s and an Airbus A320.
Makona says the carrier is currently evaluating its fleet expansion options, with both Airbus A320s and A330s or alternatively the Boeing 787 under consideration.
The airline executive says the carrier is currently in a “transformative process of transforming the airline from non-profit to profitability” adding that since relaunching operations in 2013 Air Zimbabwe has managed to reduce its losses.
Air Zimbabwe is targeting break even this year with Makona adding: “This is our intention we believe we can achieve that”.
Hainan Airlines in summer 2016 season will commence service to Israel, as it plans 3 weekly Beijing – Tel Aviv operation. Airbus A330-200 aircraft is scheduled to operate this route from 28APR16.
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