Air China said it will launch direct flights from central China's Wuhan city to Japan's Tokyo in August and Air France may also start its Paris-Wuhan route in September, Xinhua News Agency reported Wednesday.
Air China said the first flight from Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei province, to Tokyo's Narita International Airport will begin on August 27 after being delayed for several months due to the devastating earthquake that hit Japan in March.
Currently passengers who want to fly from Wuhan to Tokyo have to transfer in Beijing or Shanghai. The launch of this direct flight will cut the travelling time to only four hours, about half of the present flight time.
Wuhan is one of the major cities in central China and it is believed the flight will boost economic and cultural connections between this region and Japan.
This is also the first scheduled international flight from Wuhan, which has only had non-scheduled charter flights to some foreign cities, such as Fukuoka, Seoul and Bangkok, since the late 1990s, the report said.
Japan is one of Hubei's most important foreign trade and investment partners. There are nearly 400 Japanese enterprises in this province, of which more than 100, including Honda, Nissan and Toshiba, are in the capital city Wuhan. The total investment of Japanese enterprises in the city hit $6.4 billion by the end of last year, a report of the Changjiang Daily said on Monday.
The Japan External Trade Organization, or JETRO, a government-related organization that works to promote mutual trade, opened an office in Wuhan last Sunday, the seventh in China, which is a sign of closer economic ties between Hubei and Japan.
Another piece of good news for Wuhan residents is the launch of the Wuhan-Paris route.
Air France plans to launch a non-stop flight from Wuhan to the French capital before the end of this September, Xinhua said in its report.
M. Serge Lavroff, the Consul General of the French Consulate General in Wuhan, said Wuhan is the Chinese city France has most invested in and many French live there.
"The launch of the flight will bring more French businessmen to Wuhan as well as central China," he was quoted as saying in Xinhua's report.
Besides, Xinhua also said Wuhan may have direct flights to Singapore and the United States within the next year but it did not reveal which airlines might provide the services.