A battle over Beijing commences

Air China has welcomed increased competition from Emirates Airlines on the Dubai-Beijing route, which it claims will raise trade and consumer awareness of what China has to offer both business and leisure travellers.

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By  Joseph Mortimer Published  October 3, 2006

Air China has welcomed increased competition from Emirates Airlines on the Dubai-Beijing route, which it claims will raise trade and consumer awareness of what China has to offer both business and leisure travellers. “Now Emirates has started its daily service, the local community will start travelling to China in general,” Atty Kurian, sales manager, Air China, told ATN. “We will benefit from the publicity.” He also said Air China had a competitive edge by offering “the best fares in the market”. Emirates’ introductory return economy class fare was AED 1800 ($490), valid until September 30, compared to AED 1500 ($408) offered by Air China. “But our main selling point is that we have 76 domestic connections and 67 international connections from Beijing. We have many passengers travelling on to San Francisco, LA, and also Vancouver,” added Kurian. Air China currently operates four direct weekly flights from Dubai to Beijing and one flight every Wednesday from Kuwait, via Karachi. But there are plans to add two more direct Dubai-Beijing flights in January. “We should have 11 flights per week in time for summer 2008 when the Beijing Olympics start,” said Kurian. “We are also looking at Dubai as a hub [from China] to the GCC and beyond.” Flights from Dubai to destinations such as Nairobi, Saudi Arabia and Cairo and Johannesburg were planned, he added. At present, labour traffic accounts for 55% of business on Air China’s Beijing service; corporate and leisure travel account for 35% and 10% respectively, according to Kurian, “but leisure traffic is definitely growing”. The airline’s Discover China package, an eight-night trip taking in Beijing and Shanghai, which was valid from June to the end of August, attracted four groups from the UAE, equating to 112 passengers, he said. “We now need to raise trade awareness about China, because there is no perception of what it has to offer,” he added. Air China pays agents 7% commission on the final fare, including tax, and plans to take fam trips to Beijing and China next year. Emirates’ Beijing s service started September 1.

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