(Yicai Global) Oct. 10 -- Beijing Capital Airlines Co. and Turismo de Portugal I.P. inked a cooperation agreement on Oct. 9 inaugurating direct Beijing-Lisbon flights in June 2017, marking the first non-stop flights between the two nations.
Four flights between Beijing and Lisbon are scheduled per week aboard a Capital Airlines Airbus A330-200. Capital Airlines also intends to cooperate with Azul Brazilian Airlines -- held by HNA Group Co. -- in integrating Azul's airline operation network from Lisbon to South America. In August, HNA Group's Hainan Airlines Co. [SH: 600221] became the largest shareholder in Azul by acquiring 23.7 percent of its shares, while the Atlantic Gateway consortium to which Azul belongs possesses roughly half of TAP Portugal's stake. TAP has opened air routes in South America and Africa, and in particular, holds the right to ply intensive flights between Brazil and Portugal.
Capital Airlines is jointly invested in by HNA Group and state-owned Beijing Tourism Group. New airlines developed by Capital Airlines exhibit more distinctly touristic features than HNA Group's other carriers. More than 40 new routes have been opened since 2015, all relatively advanced in terms of speed and quantity.
Portuguese government data indicates Chinese travelers made 155,000 visits to Portugal in 2015, up 36 percent from the previous year. Portugal's President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa noted in an interview with Chinese media that the lack of non-stop flights between the two nations has erected significant barriers to tourism and trade.