(Yicai Global) July 13 -- Beijing Capital Airlines Co. (BCA) owned by HNA Group is to offer its first regular international long-distance route from capital Beijing to Lisbon, capital of Portugal, starting from July 25. An inauguration ceremony for the introduction of the 'Hangzhou – Beijing - Lisbon' route by BCA was held in the presence of Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, and Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa.
The introduction of the direct flights between China and Portugal will not only fill the void in terms of direct flights between the two countries, but also help build new corridors from China to Europe, South America, Africa and Portuguese-speaking countries by exploiting HNA Group's global aviation resources, said a BCA official.
BCA will use wide-body Airbus A330-200 for the direct route and offer three flights a week, Yicai Global learned. With the already available Madrid route, the flight will help connect tourism resources and products in Spain, Portugal and Morocco. "Going forward, we will offer more 'capital-to-capital' international routes," BCA President Xu Jun told Yicai Global.
BCA will work with Brazil's Azul Airlines and TAP Portugal in intermodal transport and code-sharing to make Lisbon a strategic air hub connecting South America, Africa and Europe and a preferred transit city. That will also help achieve intermodal transport from China to Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde and other Portuguese-speaking territories via Portugal.
BCA will also offer a route between Beijing and Macao starting July 25.
Established by HNA Group and the Beijing municipal government in 2010, BCA has shifted its strategic focus toward international routes since 2015. It has offered more than 40 international routes between China and Southeast Asia, Europe and North America since the opening of its first international route in the second half of 2014. However, many of them, especially long-haul routes, start from second- and third-tier cities.
Per public information, the number of Chinese visitors to Portugal increased 19 percent to 183,000 last year, with Chinese tourists contributing to 307,000 hotel nights in the country, an increase of 14 percent.