China, Germany to boost air connections to Cuba

June 16, 2015 10:52 am 

HAVANA, June 16 — Chinese and German airlines are strengthening their air connections with Cuba, state daily Granma reported Monday.

Air China is poised to launch a Beijing-Havana route starting in September, while Germany's Condor carrier will increase the frequency of its flights in October and add a new route, the daily said, citing the island's Ministry of Tourism.

Air China will operate three weekly flights with a stopover in Montreal, Canada, marking the first direct flights between the Asian giant and the Caribbean island, according to the daily.

The new flight has the potential to turn Havana into a hub for Chinese visitors traveling to other parts of Latin America, Granma added.

More than 28,000 Chinese travelers visited Cuba last year, a more than 27-percent increase over 2013, according to Cuba's official statistics institute (ONEI).

In time for the winter high tourism season, Condor will launch a new weekly route between Munich and Holguin, increase its Frankfurt-to-Havana frequency to four a week, and add a second weekly flight between Munich and Varadero, Cuba's famed beach resort.

Condor's goal is to maintain its dominance as the leading German carrier to Cuba.

In 2014, Germany maintained its ranking as Cuba's second-largest market of foreign tourists, after Canada, with more than 136,000 visitors, an increase of 20 percent compared to the previous year, the ministry said. Some 150,000 German tourists are expected in 2015.

Tourism is Cuba's second largest source of foreign revenue, generating USD2.6 billion a year, and drawing some 3 million visitors for the first time in 2014. That figure is expected to double in a few years as improving U.S.-Cuba ties allow more Americans to freely travel to the island. (PNA/Xinhua)

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