On April 27, Air China held a press conference in Beijing to announce the launch of two new routes between Beijing and Astana and Beijing and Zurich.
Due to be launched in June, these new routes will provide direct connections between China, Kazakhstan, and Switzerland.
The Beijing-Astana route will be launched on 1 June. Located in Kazakhstan, Astana is one of the world’s youngest capitals. It enjoys a reputation as one of the happiest and most modern cities in Central Asia. The launch of Air China’s Beijing-Astana route coincides with the 2017 World Expo, which will be held in Astana in June. The event is expected to attract visitors from all over the world.
China has a long history of friendly relations with Kazakhstan. Contact between the two nations dates back to the Western Han dynasty when the Chinese diplomat Zhang Qian visited the region. In addition to being China’s second largest trading partner in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Kazakhstan is also one of the most important countries in the Silk Road Economic Belt region. The Beijing-Astana route will provide a new direct connection between China and Kazakhstan and facilitate energy, transportation, tourism, culture, and trade cooperation between the two countries.
The Beijing-Zurich route will be launched on 7 June. Home to the global and European headquarters of over 100 banks, Zurich is surrounded by the famous Lake Zurich and the Alps, making it a popular destination for tourists from all over the world. The city’s chic, laid-back character and the beautiful surroundings make it one of the world’s most livable cities. In recent years, China and Switzerland have held numerous high-level exchanges, and bilateral trade relations have gone from strength to strength. During a state visit to Switzerland by President Xi Jinping in January this year, both countries agreed to cooperate on a number of issues to promote the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, including infrastructure construction, finance, insurance, and industry. The two countries also agreed to launch the 2017 “Sino-Swiss Year of Tourism” to boost tourist numbers. In addition to the new Beijing-Zurich route, Air China also flies from Beijing to Geneva, providing passengers with a choice of convenient, direct connections between China and Switzerland.
At the recent press conference, Air China’s Vice President Ma Chongxian explained the company’s growth strategy:
“In recent years, Air China has been expanding its route network to meet passengers’ needs. Operating from our three hubs in Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai, we plan to improve connections to a number of destinations in Europe, America, Asia, Africa and Australasia. China’s OBOR initiative has also created new opportunities for us to expand our international route network.”
In 2015, Air China launched several routes between Beijing and key cities in the OBOR region, including Minsk, Budapest, Warsaw, Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Colombo, and Islamabad.