China Southern Airlines makes debut flight to Vancouver

16:34, June 16, 2011      

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China Southern Airlines entered the Canadian market Wednesday when its inaugural flight to Vancouver touched down with 282 passengers aboard.

After nearly four years of negotiations with Canadian authorities, the Guangzhou-based carrier will fly to Vancouver non-stop three times a week.

China Southern president and CEO Tan Wangeng said he was confident Vancouver, a sister city to Guangzhou, would play an important role in the carrier's North American expansion, which would boost economic exchange and trade between the two countries.

He said the carrier's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, to be delivered later this year, would be used on the Guangzhou-Vancouver run.

Currently, the carrier's only other North American destination is Los Angeles.

China Southern is the third Chinese carrier to service the Canadian market, joining Air China and China Eastern Airlines.

In August 2010, Canada was granted Approved Destination Status, a move that has proved especially popular with Chinese tourists.

According to the Canada Tourism Commission (CTC), which so far this year has spent 4.5 million Canadian dollars (4.58 million U.S. dollars) in advertising campaigns to market the country in China, 193,000 Chinese travelers visited Canada last year.

The government agency is forecasting 242,600 Chinese arrivals this year and 286,500 in 2012.

Maxime Bernier, Canada's Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism, called the arrival of the Chinese huge for the country's tourism market.

According to CTC estimates, Chinese tourists spent 317.1 million Canadian dollars (323.4 million dollars) in the country last year and this is expected to jump to nearly 500 million Canadian dollars (509.9 million dollars) in 2012.

"The arrival of China Southern will benefit Canadians by providing more choices for travel between both countries and has the potential to have a significant economic impact for Canadian tourism," Bernier said.

Blair Lekstrom, British Columbia's Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, said with the province's large population of Chinese-Canadians, about 400,000 in all, China Southern's arrival was another sign of the increasing tourism, trade and cultural connections between the region and Asia.

Source: Xinhua
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