Shanghai's 72-hour visa waiver and the fast integration of the Yangtze River Delta region will combine to help China Eastern Airlines Co Ltd cement its reputation as a major international airline, its president said.
Shanghai-based China Eastern plans to develop regional tourism products, order more medium- and long-range aircraft, and broaden its overseas sales network to attract foreign passengers, Ma Xulun said Tuesday.
Ma said that about 47 percent of the airline's revenue comes from international business, and a higher percentage is necessary to gain a global reputation.
"Our vision is to build China Eastern into a world-class airline. We want to realize this goal by fully leveraging on Shanghai's geographic advantage as a transportation hub," Ma, a national legislator, said on the sidelines of this year's session of the 12th National People's Congress.
One step is to transform Shanghai's stereotype as a business-only destination into one for leisure travel, he said.
The high-speed railway is a game changer that makes it possible to traverse the Yangtze River Delta region, including Shanghai and neighboring Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, in just an hour.
Backed by dominant market shares in the city's twin international airports, with 40 percent in Shanghai Pudong International Airport and more than 50 percent in Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, China Eastern has counted on diverse intercity travel packages to attract foreign customers.
To consolidate the market, the carrier entered into an agreement with the Shanghai Railway Bureau to sell combined air-railway tickets connecting 13 cities that cost less than they would if purchased separately.
The tourism sector of the parent China Eastern Air Holding Co is also undergoing a restructuring program in which it plans to merge its tourism assets with another subsidiary, Shanghai Airlines.
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