FINNAIR inaugurated flights to Chongqing on May 9, the first carrier to open direct services between Europe and the inland Chinese megacity.
Mika Vehviläinen, CEO of Finnair, said: “We believe Chongqing has the potential of developing into a hub for travel between Western China and Europe, both for business and leisure travellers.”
Chongqing’s population of 32 million, about the size of Austria, is expected to double over the next five years. Chinese and Western companies, especially in the electronics, automotive and chemical industries, are currently expanding their operations in Chongqing, said the airline.
Chongqing also provides convenient access to river cruises on the Jialing and Yangtze rivers, and the city is well connected to Lhasa, Xian and Kunming.
Finnair is using Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft on this route, which takes eight and a half hours.
The airline first announced its plans to fly to Chongqing last year (TTG Asia e-Daily, July 6, 2011). The new route is in line with its strategy to offer shorter connections between Asia and Europe via Helsinki.
In addition to four flights per week to Chongqing, Finnair also flies daily to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong from Helsinki.
This summer, Finnair will operate 81 flights per week to 11 destinations in Asia.