China Eastern Airlines, one of the three largest airlines in China, has launched its non-stop service between Shanghai and Toronto, its sixth destination in North America. The Shanghai-based carrier’s inaugural flight with its Airbus A340-600 aircraft carrying more than 270 passengers landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport on Wednesday (June 25) at around 2:30 pm. The return flight left Toronto at 4:25 pm.
Until now, only Air Canada provided non-stop service between Toronto and Shanghai. China Eastern will offer three flights weekly on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Tian Liuwen, executive vice- president of China Eastern Airlines, said the carrier plans to provide daily service with the new Boeing 777 next year.
“The launching of the new flight can bring more opportunity of trade, tourism and students studying in Toronto. I am looking for another big cooperation between Toronto Pearson International Airport and Chinese airlines,” said Fang Li, Chinese consul general in Toronto, at a welcoming ceremony.
In Ontario, China Eastern’s new service is expected to generate the equivalent of more than 490 full-time jobs both at Toronto Pearson and at Ontario’s hotels, restaurants, shops and tourist attractions from visitors to the province on the new China Eastern flight. This will generate an estimated C$18 million in wages ($16.84 million), C$12 million in taxes and C$70 million in added gross domestic product for the province. Based in Shanghai, China Eastern Airlines ranks among the world’s top-five airlines in passenger volume. In 2012, China Eastern Airlines was named “Most Improved Airline” by Skytrax World Airline Awards. The airline originally began flights to and from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in June 2004.
“Together with our existing Vancouver flights, China Eastern Airlines now becomes the first Chinese carrier operating from both Eastern and Western Canada, offering more than 13 flights each week connecting Canada with China, Asia and beyond,” said Liuwen, at the welcoming ceremony.
“We had a lot of transfer passengers from Toronto via Vancouver to Shanghai. We see Toronto as a potential and special market. The new route is a huge step for us to get involved into the Canadian market,” said Margaret Meng, general manager of China Eastern Airlines in Canada.
Compared with transferring via Vancouver, the direct flight will reduce the flying time to about 14 hours from the previous 19 hours. The supplementary service will boost tourism and business, provide more choice for Canadian travelers and have a positive impact on both economies.
“By 2020, it is forecasted that China’s aviation sector will account for more than 1 billion passengers by air,” said Howard Eng, president and CEO of Greater Toronto Airports Authority. “At Toronto Pearson we are doing our part to attract and service this growing market, and that stands to grow with the addition of China Eastern.”
“Shanghai is the No 1 financial center in China. Toronto is the No 1 financial center in Canada. It is a perfect way having China Eastern Airlines to connect these two centers,” said Michael Chan, Ontario minister of citizenship, immigration and international trade.
According to Chan, Ontario had about 200, 000 tourist inbound from China in 2014, about a 20-percent increase over the same period in 2013. The new service will make it easier for Ontario businesses and organizations such as mineral companies or manufacturers to reach new customers, suppliers and investors in China. It is also an opportunity for Ontario universities to attract more students coming for their post-secondary education.
“With the increased trade and tourism through the two countries, more business and more jobs will be created over here in Toronto,” said Senator Victor Oh.
Since Canada was granted Approved Destination Status (ADS) by China in June 2010, Canada welcomed approximately 273,300 overnight Chinese travelers in 2012, who injected $486 million in Canada’s tourism economy. Canadian Tourism Commission has seen more than 273,000 Chinese visited the country in 2013, up 15.5 percent from a year earlier. According to a report earlier this year, Hainan Airlines plans to launch a new service linking Shanghai to Toronto using its Boeing 787 Dreamliner to compete with its rivals Air Canada and China Eastern Airlines. Air China has been approved to use a Boeing 773 aircraft on its Shanghai-Toronto route.