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New Route of the Day (17 May 2024): Air China between Madrid and Havana


Air China inaugurated flights between Madrid and the Cuban capital of Havana on Friday 17 May. The service, which originates from Beijing PEK, will be maintained twice per week, departing Madrid on Tuesdays and Fridays, with the 293-seat 787-9 aircraft. The carrier holds fifth-freedom rights on the Madrid – Havana sector, enabling it to sell tickets between the two capitals. It competes directly against World2Fly’s 3-weekly service, Cubana’s weekly rotation, Iberia’s 3-weekly flights, as well as Air Europe’s daily operation.

Flight CA865 departs Madrid at 14:45 local time, arriving in Havana at 18:40 local time. The return service, operating as flight CA866, takes off from the island nation at 09:00 local time on Wednesdays and Saturdays, touching back down in the Spanish capital at 23:55 local time.

What they said

Alberto Blanco Silva, the Ambassador of Cuba to China, said: “The resumption of flights between China, Latin America and the Caribbean comes as a result of the efforts we have undertaken recently, including visa exemption for Chinese nationals, as well as the announcement of China being the guest of honour at the international Tourism Fair in Havana next year. This shows the high priority we have placed in bilateral relations between both countries.”

Air China returns to Havana after four years

Air China discontinued operations between Beijing and Havana at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in February 2020. Back then, the service was maintained via Montreal, rather than Madrid.

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In 2019, Chinese tourists were the 13th by visits to the Caribbean island, with some 45,000 Chinese tourists visiting the country. However, last year Cuba saw only 18,000 visitors from the Asian nation.

The promotion of Chinese tourism is part of the Cuban authorities’ commitment to reach 3.2 million international visitors in 2024 in order help the nation’s struggling tourism sector, which has failed to recover since the pandemic, resulting in a major economic crisis in Cuba.

Chinese carriers return to Latin America

China-based airlines are slowly restoring capacity to Latin America. China Southern Airlines recently launched flights between Shenzhen and Mexico City MEX, while Air China has resumed services to Sao Paolo GRU via Madrid. Meanwhile, China Eastern Airlines recently received approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China to commenced scheduled flights between Shanghai PVG and Buenos Aires.

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