China Eastern looking to expand India services

Kunming, China: After starting daily operations from New Delhi, and four-times-a-week flights from Kolkata, China Eastern Airlines officials have said that they are keen on starting direct flights from more Indian cities.

The airline already has a daily flight from New Delhi to Shanghai, its main hub, and recently launched a four-times-a-week service between Kolkata and Kunming, an important town in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunan. Kunming is also the airline''s second hub.

China Eastern has linked Kolkata to the Chinese mainland at a time when this communist neighbour is due to open a consulate office in the city.

Yang Xu, general manager and head of China Eastern Airlines, Kunming branch, said, "We had many choices to start our second direct flight, from Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi. However we chose Kolkata which is the gateway to the East." He also said that prospects for the Kolkata flight were very promising.

Earlier, tourism minister Ambika Soni had said there were plans for 50 weekly flights between the two countries. China Eastern initially had three flights from Kolkata, which it has raised to four because of the good response received by the service.