Direct air links between China and Portugal to be resumed by Air China

9 November 2018

Direct flights between China and Portugal, which were suspended since 15 October by Capital Airlines, are expected to be resumed in the coming months by air carrier Air China, the China-Lusophone Brief (CLBrief) reported.

CLBrief, a news service on China and the Portuguese-speaking countries, reported that discrete negotiations are underway, which, if successful, will allow Air China to bring the direct route.

Capital Airlines, of Hainan’s HNA group, announced last August that it would suspend direct flights between China and Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, between 15 October and March 2019, a decision made for “operational reasons.”

The link, which had three flights a week, between the city of Hangzhou on the east coast of China and Lisbon, with a stop in Beijing, began on 26 July, 2017, and carried over 80,000 passengers in the first year.

The HNA group, of which Capital Airlines is a part, is in the throes of a complicated financial crisis, having closed 2017 with an estimated liability of 598 billion yuan (US$82.6 billion).

CLBrief also reported that if the current negotiations remain positive it is possible that the return of direct air links between the two countries will be announced when President Xi Jinping visits Portugal in early December.

Sources quoted by China-Lusophone Brief said that Air China’s first flight to Lisbon could take place in early February 2019.

CLBrief cites official figures to state that Chinese tourists who visited Portugal in 2017 provided tourist revenue of €130 million.

It also recalled the participation of Chinese groups in the share capital of several Portuguese companies, such as power companies EDP – Energias de Portugal and Redes Energéticas Nacionais, the Banco Comercial Português bank, insurance company Fidelidade and health company Luz Saúde. (macauhub)