Cuba Announces Air China Flights for May, but the Airline Does Not Include Them in Its Program

The announcement did not specify the exact date the flights would restart nor the cost of the tickets / EFE

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 9 April 2024 –The Cuban Aviation Corporation recently announced that Air China will resume its route to Havana this May, after having suspended its flights during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, despite the proximity of the date – the authorities did not specify an exact day – the airline does not include the route to the Cuban capital in its program for the coming months. The origin of the flights, which will land at José Martí International Airport in Havana, as well as their frequency, has not been announced by the authorities, who met with Air China representatives within the framework of the International Transport and Logistics Fair in Havana.

An article in the Chinese press in November 2023 mentions the restoration of the Beijing-Havana connection in 2024. If it is the same flight – a route that has not changed since its inauguration in 2015 with three weekly flights – it is likely to include a stopover in Montreal, Canada.

Both the Chinese and Cuban state press had already announced on other occasions the intention of both countries to resume the connection. At the beginning of 2023, the Tumei agency, based in Hong Kong and specialized in promoting destinations in the Caribbean, included Cuba among the 20 destinations that were authorized for travel after the pandemic. At that time, it was expected that commercial flights between the two countries would increase with the incorporation of Air China.

Increasing the arrival of Chinese travelers, coveted in many countries for being large consumers, has been one of the goals of the regime in recent years  

Tumei then declared that the Island was among its “priority” destinations, with preference among its customers. Also, in July 2023, 16 businessmen linked to the Chinese travel operator Huaxing International Travel visited Havana for 10 days with the aim of attracting foreign capital and Chinese tourists to the Island.

Increasing the arrival of Chinese travelers, coveted in many countries for being large consumers, has been one of the goals of the regime in recent years. Last December, Prime Minister Manuel Marrero revealed during his visit to China that Cuba will make adjustments to its tourist facilities to attract more customers in that country. The changes promised by the leader ranged from installing electric heaters in hotel rooms for hot water, including the Chinese language in the signage of the Island and the construction of a hotel “with Chinese characteristics.”

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics and Information, 18,003 Chinese travelers arrived in Cuba in 2023, which translates into a growth of 215% compared to 2022, when 8,374 arrived.

The depression of the tourism sector on the Island, which has not managed to recover the number of travelers who arrived before the pandemic, has led the regime to look for alternatives in other markets. Russian tourism, with a recent boom – the Island expects to receive at least 200,000 travelers from that country this year – has been another of those chosen along with the Chinese. Both are favored by the political alliances between the governments of these countries with Havana, which promises perks in exchange for sending travelers.

During the Fair, the Cuban Ministry of Transport also signed an agreement with Álvaro Fernando Barba García, Uruguay’s ambassador to Cuba, for “the establishment of direct flights between Montevideo and Havana.”

Translated by Regina Anavy


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