Montreal introduces three non-stop flights weekly to Beijing
Published Tuesday, September 29, 2015 7:40PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, September 29, 2015 7:45PM EDT
The first non-stop flight from China to Montreal landed at Trudeau Airport Tuesday afternoon to much fanfare.
The excitement over the landing was about much more than just a flight path -- it's also about a plan to make Montreal a more relevant destination.
A hugely anticipated arrival, the Boeing 777 landed at Trudeau Airport almost 13 hours in the air after taking off from Beijing.
“This bridge between our two continents will have a major impact for us and our Chinese partners and will enhance our longstanding friendship,” said Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre at the arrival.
For now, three flights weekly will leave and arrive at Trudeau Airport, equipped with 308 seats for luxury, business and economy travellers.
With China the largest outbound market in the world, Montreal is expecting these direct flights will bring an influx of new travellers, said Yves Lalumiere, president of Tourisme Montreal.
“Right now we have about 20,000 people from China visiting Montreal (per year). We're looking at 100,000 people by 2018,” he said.
Air China's fist expansion into Canada in more than two decades, the trans-Pacific link to Asia will have far-reaching implications for Montreal, its chosen gateway.
“The new direct flights will increase business activities by millions of dollars just in these years, over several years we expect it will be by tens of millions of dollars and eventually up to 100 millions of dollars,” said Michel Leblanc, president of the Montreal Board of Trade.
Dignitaries and top government officials, including China's ambassador to Canada Luo Zhaohui, attended the event, which included a ceremonial water salute by twin trucks, for an inaugural flight and a safe landing.
Drums and a traditional lion dance added to the festive and impressive welcome into Trudeau Airport.
“I usually use Air Canada and stop in Toronto, and from today, myself and my colleagues will use the Montreal airport,” said Luo.
Quebec Minister of Trade and Commerce Jacques Daoust was on board the nonstop flight, returning home after a trade mission in China.
“I was upgraded to first-class – and it was first class,” laughed Daoust.