Finnair has launched non-stop service to Chongqing, one of the largest and fastest-growing cities in China.
According to Finnair, the new route is a logical next step in the carrier’s strategy of offering the shortest connections between Asia and Europe via Helsinki. Finnair says it is the first carrier to open a direct flight route between Europe and Chongqing.
Situated on the edge of the Tibetan plateau, greater Chongqing is one of China’s four province-level municipalities, and the only one located in inland China. With a total population of 32 million residing in an area about the size of Austria, Chongqing’s urban population is expected to double over the next five years.
“China is a key part of our Asia-Europe strategy,” says Finnair CEO Mika Vehviläinen. “Western China is an important growth area, and the new route will strengthen our position in the growing Asian markets. I want to thank the Chongqing authorities and the local airport for the excellent cooperation and support for opening this new route. We believe Chongqing has the potential of developing into a hub for travel between Western China and Europe, both for business and leisure travellers.”
Chinese companies and many Western companies, especially in the electronics, automotive and chemical industries, are expanding their operations in Chongqing, and business travel and cargo prospects are promising, according to Finnair.
Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport already has 140 routes to more than 80 cities in China and Asia, and the airport is undergoing expansion. When the expansion is complete in 2015, the airport will be capable of handling 45 million passengers per year.
Finnair notes that, besides booming business activity, Chongqing offers much to see for tourists interested in China’s history and nature. Visitors can experience historical buildings, temples, hot springs and natural beauty, as well as the Dazu Rock Carvings, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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 flying Airbus A330-300s and A340-300s on the route, wither its flights scheduled for eight and a half hours block time in each direction. In addition to four flights per week to Chongqing, in China Finnair flies daily to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong from Helsinki.
According to the airline, Helsinki is the most geographically logical transfer point for connecting from Asia to more than 50 destinations in Europe. This summer Finnair will operate 81 flights per week to 11 destinations in Asia.