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Airline planning Shanghai-Copenhagen flights
By Chen Qide (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-01 09:34

Scandinavian Airlines has laid out its plan to open direct flights on the air route from Copenhagen to China's eastern metropolis in March in a bid to bite into the fast-growing tourism industry in the region.

As the second Northern European airline after Finnair targetting China's business centre, it will initially make the journey between Shanghai and Copenhagen three times weekly on Airbus A340 planes.

"Shanghai has been a city we have been concerned about for many years because of its fast-growing economy," said Bjorn Ekegren, general manager of the China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Republic of Korea and Mongolia regions of Scandinavian Airlines Systems (SAS).

SAS undertook a market survey of Shanghai and other parts of China in 2001, but the decision to open direct flights was delayed for numerous reasons including the September 11 attacks on the United States, Ekegren said.

"If permitted, we will provide daily services, for three weekly flights, which are far from meeting the booming demand," he said.

At present, 70 per cent of its passengers are foreign while 30 per cent are Chinese.

Vice-Managing Director Michel Kruse of Vakantiebeurs Exhibitions Asia said during his recent tour of the city that China is expected to replace Japan, the United States and Germany to become the country that has the largest number of tourists travelling overseas in the world.

As more and more Chinese people become wealthier, some of them will consider holidays abroad.

Many foreign airlines, which already have business links with Shanghai, have added or will increase flights.

Finnair, which launched its three weekly non-stop services flying to and from Shanghai last September, will have weekly flights to the city at the start of June.

China Eastern Airlines, one of China's three pillar carriers, will also open three weekly flights to London in April, flights to Vancouver in June and Moscow in July.

Ekegren said the Danish and Chinese civil aviation authorities will discuss the possibility of increasing flights on the Copenhagen-Shanghai air route in April.

"I reckon the negotiations will be resultful," he said.

The general manager explained that its strategy in China would focus on Beijing in the northern part of the country, Shanghai in the middle and Guangzhou or Hong Kong in the south.

"We will open flights to Guangzhou or possibly Hong Kong if conditions are ripe," he said.

But Ekegren suggested that Shanghai double its efforts to provide one-stop transfer services for passengers on domestic and international flights, thus enabling SAS to extend, for example, its Copenhagen-Shanghai flights to Hainan Province.

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