New Route of the Day (22 November 2023): China Eastern Airlines between Wenzhou and Madrid
China Eastern Airlines introduced flights between Wenzhou, in China’s east, and Madrid, on Wednesday 22 November, marking the carrier’s second route to the Spanish capital. The 10,515-kilometre service will be maintained 2-weekly, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, with the 286-seat A350-900 aircraft. The SkyTeam member faces no competition between the two cities.
Flight MU261 departs Wenzhou at 11:00 local time, arriving in Madrid at 18:35 local time. The inbound service, operating as flight MU262, takes off from the Spanish capital at 21:15 local time, arriving back at the Chinese airport at 17:30 local time the following day.
Madrid’s China capacity reaches pre-pandemic levels
The number of flights between Madrid and China have now almost completely recovered. During Q4 2023, there are a total of 204 flights departing Madrid bound for China, just below 210 during the same quarter in 2019. On the other hand, capacity is slightly up, with 58,665 available seats in the fourth quarter compared to 58,486 in 2019, according to Cirium schedules data.
Four Chinese carriers currently maintain operations between the Spanish capital and China. In addition to China Eastern Airlines, they include Air China, Hainan Airlines, and Beijing Capital Airlines. Jointly, they serve Madrid from five Chinese cities. Among them are Beijing PEK, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Shanghai PVG and the newly launched Wenzhou service, with China Eastern Airlines maintaining the latter two. During Q4, Air China and China Eastern Airlines increased both their number of flights and available capacity compared to four years ago by 50% and 30% respectively.
The only carrier to have not restored services between the two markets is Iberia. The airline operated between Madrid and Shanghai PVG in 2019, however, the inability to fly into Russian airspace, which significantly increases costs on Asia-bound flights, remains a deterrent for the Spanish carrier.
Spain and China mark 50 years of relations
Spain saw a 420% surge in Chinese tourists during H1 2023, compared to the same period last year. It comes as Spain and China mark fifty years of diplomatic relations this year. Prior to the pandemic, some 700,000 Chinese tourists visited the country on an annual basis.
Wenzhou in located in the southeastern part of Zhejiang Province in China. It is situated on the East China Sea coast. It is known for its economic dynamism and significant role in China’s private sector development. Apart from the newly launched flights to Madrid, Wenzhou also boasts nonstop services to Milan MXP and Rome FCO in Europe.
Madrid is Europe’s fifth busiest airport
Madrid Airport handled almost 45 million passengers during the first three quarters of the year, representing an improvement 22% on 2022. It has almost completely recovered on four years ago, operating at 96.8% of pre-pandemic levels.
The domestic Spanish market is Madrid’s largest, followed by Italy, France, and Portugal, while the US is the largest non-European market, followed by Mexico and Colombia.