What is the cause of a surprising increase in direct flights from China to Spain

Spain has seen a dramatic increase in direct flights to Spain from China over the past few years. The increase in direct flights from China is largely due the increasing number Chinese tourists and investors who are choosing to visit or invest Spain. Spain’s rich culture, stunning landscapes and vibrant cities such as Madrid and Barcelona have attracted many Chinese tourists who are looking for destinations outside of the traditional Asian countries. The Spanish government’s efforts in strengthening economic ties with China has resulted in a rise in business travel, with more direct flights between major cities of both countries.

Direct flights from China have brought benefits to Spain’s tourism industry. They also helped foster cultural exchanges. In addition to boosting the Spanish hospitality industry, this influx of Chinese visitors has given locals an opportunity to meet people of other cultures. The increase in direct flights also has helped to facilitate educational and cultural exchanges as more Chinese artists, students, and researchers are now able access Spanish institutions. The increase in direct flights has been mutually beneficial for both Spain and China.

In several Spanish cities, the number of direct flights to China has increased dramatically this year. Since China lifted its travel restrictions in 2013, tourists from around the world have been keen to visit Europe’s most popular tourist destinations, including Madrid and Barcelona.

The 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Spain is a significant milestone for the market. There are still flight options available for European carriers such as the Spanish flag carrier IberiaThe most direct route passes over large portions of Russian airspace which are still closed to operators.

Filling the gap

Chinese airlines were quick to restore connections after the policy of zero-COVID in China was lifted in December. Before the pandemic, 30 flights per week were operated by all airlines between China and Spain during high season. In 2019, the last year for international travel, more than 700,000 Chinese tourists visited Spain.

The demand for travel from Asia is comparable to that of Europe and America. Along with tourism, there’s also a big market for visiting family and friends, which was especially hard in recent years. Miguel Sanz said he expected capacity to be fully restored by 2024.

“We’ve managed to restore 60% of the direct connections (with China) we had before the pandemic, and we hope to increase this figure by year-end and close the gap next year.”

Spain has also increased its diplomatic and consular service in China, to reduce the waiting times for visa applications.

Who is responsible for the restoration of capacity?

Several major Chinese carriers have resumed their links with the United States. Turespana reports that 16 flights per week have been launched from Beijing, Shanghai Hong Kong and Chongqing to Madrid and Barcelona in the last four months.

Air China The frequency of its flights to Beijing has increased recently. Madrid Barajas From one per week up to five. The carrier also offers flights from Beijing Capital International Airport Barcelona thrice a week. Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Madrid has also resumed flight service from the hub. The fourteen-and-a-half-hour flights are undertaken on the oneworld carrier’s Airbus A350 aircraft.

Air China Boeing 787-9 being towed at the Frankfurt airport.

Photo: Vytautas Kielaitis | Shutterstock

Hainan Airlines The link between Chongqing and Madrid is now twice weekly. Shenzhen Airlines will also launch three flights per week to Barcelona, according to reports. Sanz reports that a secret airline is also seriously considering establishing a connection between a Chinese city and southern Spain.

Silk Road in flight

China Eastern Five weekly flights will be available between Shanghai to Madrid this summer. The route, which was introduced in 2016, is also known as the “Silk Road in the air” As it is well known, the trade, tourism and cultural exchanges that take place between the two areas are made easier.

The flights will run five round trips per week between Madrid Barajas International Airport (MBA) and Shanghai Pudong International Airport, on flights: MU709 and 710. China Eastern’s Airbus A350 900 will fly the route with 39 seats in business (including 4 premium business class seats), and 215 in economic class.

CHina eastern Airbus A330

This year is also the 2023 China Spain Year of Culture and Tourism. It aims to strengthen the bilateral relationship in politics, economics, trade and culture between both countries. Sanz was the first Western tourism official to visit China this year on behalf of Turespana to promote the Turespana Project with authorities, tour companies, and airlines, when Beijing relaxed its travel restrictions.

Iberia, the Spanish flag carrier, has not yet resumed its Shanghai route because alternative routes that avoid Russian airspace would be too expensive.

Source: Reuters