Sichuan Airlines Enters North American Market with New Vancouver Route
Xinhua, May 21, 2012
China's Sichuan Airlines announced Friday it will start flying into Vancouver three times weekly from June 22, marking the Chinese carrier's first entry into the North American market.
With the flights offering a stopover in Shenyang, the capital of the northeastern Liaoning province, Zhang Huiyu, Sichuan Airlines vice president international, said the new service would offer great choice to both Chinese and Canadian travelers as the first and only flights from North America to China's interior.
The flights will operate Tuesday, Friday and Sunday via an Airbus 330 aircraft capable of carrying 245 passengers.
"Vancouver is the Asia Pacific gateway of Canada. Shenyang is a large international metropolis in northeast China. Chengdu is the transportation hub in western China. So in June this year Sichuan Airlines will build a golden air bridge to connect these three amazing cities," said Zhang.
He added that the carrier, based in Chengdu, the provincial capital of China's southwestern Sichuan province, will considered daily flights in future based on passenger demand.
"(This route) it's not only important to Sichuan Airlines, it's also important to all the people from the western region of China. Because all the flights originate from Chengdu in the western part of China to Shenyang, which is northeast, it will provide a gateway to the students, immigrants and travelers to Canada."
The carrier is entering an already crowded Vancouver market serviced by Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines. However, with Canada being granted Approved Destination Status (ADS) in June 2010 demand for flights to the country is rising.
In 2011, its first full year of ADS, 242,000 Chinese travelers visited the country. The Canadian Tourism Commission is forecasting the number of Chinese arrivals to jump 21.3 percent this year, and 25.2 percent in 2013.
James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, said aside from boosting tourism the increased flights provided greater choice for travelers and would leave a "significant impact on the economy."
"The air industry is a critical part of Canada's economic health and I think air liberalization in the future and other opportunities are certainly something I know that YVR (the Vancouver airport), the government of Canada, all of us want to see those kind of partnerships taken to their full advantage to the benefit of all travelers," he said.
"Today's announcement of Sichuan Airlines coming here with the frequency that they are, with the openness that we have, I think Approved Destination Status means that we are going to be able to create more Canadian jobs through greater tourism, greater access and more opportunities. And also I think it is important for consumers to know that air liberalization means lower prices, more competition and better services, so I think it's a win-win all around for all markets."
Liu Fei, the Consul General of China in Vancouver, said she hoped the new flight service would attract more Canadians to visit China, adding the consulate was processing, on average, between 400 and 600 visas to the country each day.
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