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Four Beijing-Naha flights coming from Air China

Date Posted: 2011-08-03

Okinawa’s governor is putting on a full court press across Asia for more tourists, and he’s gotten the ear of China’s Civil Aviation Administration and the National Tourism Administration, who’ve agreed to start four Beijing-Naha flights each week.

Governor Hirokazu Nakaima used a July visit to Beijing as the platform for urging China to take advantage of the new multiple-entry visas available for Chinese tourists, and pitched Okinawa as the perfect new travel destination. Air China and the government agencies agreed, approving an increase in the number of flights to Naha. The national air carrier had already sought approval for twice-weekly Naha flights.

The new service was aided by the governor’s noting Hainan Airlines started twice a week flights to Okinawa last month. Air China is the nation’s largest airline, and has about 40% of the take-off and landing rights at Beijing Airport. The combination of Air China and Hainan Airlines serving Okinawa is expected to launch a new wave of Chinese tourism. Hainan Airlines, the fourth-largest in China, says it wants to expand beyond two flights a week, too, and has asked Okinawa to lighten burdens of landing fees and airport facilities fees.

The vice chairman for Air China, Shi Zengqi, says “Okinawa will be our seventh base of operations in Japan. We will flesh out our network within Japan through the route to Okinawa,” adding “I’m not sure exactly when we’ll start, but we want to fly as soon as possible once we get permission.” He’s asked Okinawa’s governor for assistance from the Okinawa Prefectural Government to promote the services through advertising, leading the governor to respond “Tell us what you need.”

Governor Nakaima has told both Air China and Hainan Airlines he’s supporting their new ventures into Okinawa. The governor also told Chinese officials he plans to open an Okinawa Prefecture Government office in Beijing in the near future.

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