Inauguration of the Geneva-Beijing line
On Tuesday 7 May 2013, at 8:35 pm, Geneva airport inaugurated the first direct flight operated by Air China between Geneva and Beijing.
Landing at Geneva airport at 6:35 pm, the Airbus A 330-200 of the Chinese national airline carried an important Chinese delegation which was welcomed on the tarmac by Geneva’s cantonal and airport authorities.
A ceremony then brought together more than two hundred political, diplomatic, industrial, tourist and media representatives in the Altitude panoramic restaurant.
“The authorities of Geneva are delighted that Air China has chosen to open this new route between Beijing and Geneva,” declared a delighted Isabel Rochat, Councillor of State of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, in her capacity as Chair of the Board of Directors of Geneva Airport. “This line is hugely important at a diplomatic, political, economic and cultural level for the entire region,” she added.
Madam Feng Rune, Vice-President of Air China, for her part was pleased to see in this inaugural flight “the concretisation of a tradition of good relations between the cities of Beijing and Geneva, and in broader terms between China and Switzerland”.
“The economic dynamism of the customer catchment area of Geneva airport is key to the success of this new route. This direct line between Geneva and Beijing will help to strengthen commercial and diplomatic relations between our two cities and our two countries,” noted Madam Wang Fan, the Managing Director of Air China for Switzerland.
Back from China where he signed a twinning agreement between Geneva Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA), Robert Deillon, the Managing Director of Geneva Airport, was for his part delighted by the prospect of welcoming large numbers of Chinese visitors to Geneva. “The staff of Geneva Airport have been made aware of the requirements of this new clientele and we have adapted our facilities and services accordingly, so that we can reserve a personalised welcome for them,” he said. He added: “Despite the differences of scale between our two airports, the agreement we have just signed will allow us to give substance to fruitful exchanges in different fields of activity.”
Official speeches at the rostrum were followed by a concert performed by the virtuoso pianist Mélodie Zhao, before members of the Chinese and Swiss delegations exchanged pledges of friendship in the presence of His Excellency Ambassador Liu Zhenmin, permanent representative of the Popular Republic of China at the United Nations, His Excellency Ambassador Yi Xiaozhun, representing the PRC at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and His Excellency Ambassador Wu Haitao, representing the PRC at the Conference on Disarmament.
The opening of this direct line between Geneva and Beijing is the result of discussions carried on for several years between Geneva airport authorities and representatives of Air China. These feasibility studies were made possible by the political determination manifested by the Chinese and Swiss governments in support of efforts made by economic and tourist circles over a number of years to encourage the development of commercial and cultural links between the two cities.
For information, this non-stop line will be operated four times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The aircraft will take off from Beijing at 1:30 pm and land in Geneva the same day at 6:25 pm. The return flight will depart from Geneva at 8:25 pm and arrive the next day in Beijing at 12:55 pm. This evening take-off from Geneva is particularly well suited to the expectations of passengers in the catchment area of Geneva Airport, insofar as it allows them to make the most of a full day in the city before going to the airport. The arrival time in Beijing has also been calculated to offer optimal connections with the Air China network, particularly as regards travelling to other cities across China.
Air China becomes the twelfth Star Alliance member serving Geneva, where the said alliance already provides regular links to around thirty destinations. The synergies between allied airlines will make it possible to develop connections between China and other European markets via Geneva, and vice-versa. Freight activity –particularly in the fields of watchmaking, jewellery and chemicals – is also expected to share in the success of this route.
Air China is one of the world’s largest airlines with a fleet of more than 400 aircraft. It currently serves a total of around 280 destinations in 30 countries in Asia, the Middle East, North America and South America from its main hub at Beijing Capital International Airport. In Europe, Geneva will reinforce the existing network to Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf, London, Paris, Stockholm, Milan, Rome and Madrid. In 2011, Air China was awarded four stars by SKYTRAX, the international airline services accreditation authority.
With around 13.9 million passengers making use of its facilities in 2012, i.e. an increase of 5.9% compared to the previous year, Geneva Airport is growing at a rate faster than the European average. Cargo activity generated 75,000 tonnes of freight last year. Geneva serves approximately 120 regular destinations, including more than twenty intercontinental routes. The airport’s catchment area is well known for its airline-friendly, high worth clientele, the result of a unique concentration of international and multinational organisations based in the region.
Aircraft arrival album
Album of guests with the tea box