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May 22, 2019

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Direct flights meet demand for Asian travel

Shanghai-based airlines are competing to open direct flights to popular destinations in Southeast Asia to meet rising demand amid the Belt and Road Initiative.

Spring Airlines yesterday announced the first direct flight between Shanghai and Yangon in Myanmar from July 1. The budget carrier will operate four flights weekly that take five hours for a one-way journey, half of the time taken by existing transfer flights.

China Eastern will also open a direct link between Shanghai and Yangon around July with three return flights every week.

Juneyao Airlines opened a direct flight between Nanjing in neighboring Jiangsu Province and Mandalay in Myanmar last month. The local carrier has been operating flights to Southeast Asian nations such as Thailand and the Philippines.

Due to preferential visa policies as well as improved transport and infrastructure under China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Southeast Asia has become one of the top choices for local tourists, said Shao Yuhua, general manager of the Asia-Pacific department of the Shanghai Spring Tour.

The number of travelers to Southeast Asian countries from Shanghai has been rising by 15 percent annually since 2016, said Shao.

To meet the rising demand, Spring Airlines is operating eight flights every day from Shanghai to Southeast Asian destinations such as Bangkok, Phuket Island, Chiang Mai, Singapore, Sabah and Phnom Penh.

“The new direct flight to Yangon is expected to promote the tourism resources in Myanmar among locals as well as add a new travel choice among the Belt and Road countries,” said Shao.

The low-cost carrier offers a discounted ticket price of 99 yuan (US$14) for a one-way flight from Shanghai to Yangon.

Spring Tour has arranged for more than 100 local tourists, including many seniors, to travel to Laos and Cambodia this year.

More travel packages in Southeast Asia and other Belt and Road nations will be developed in future, Shao said.


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