Resumption of direct flights strengthens China-Cuba connectivity and trust, says Cuban ambassador

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18th May 2024 – (Havana) The resumption of direct flights between China and Cuba is expected to enhance connectivity and strengthen trust between the two countries. Alberto Blanco Silva, Cuban Ambassador to China, expressed this view in an exclusive interview with the Global Times on Friday. The reopening of air travel between the two nations, marked by an Air China Boeing 787-9 aircraft departing from Beijing Airport bound for Havana, signifies a new chapter in bilateral relations, according to the Cuban embassy.

Initially, two flights per week will operate, but the frequency is expected to increase as passenger and air cargo traffic grows between the two countries. The Cuban ambassador highlighted the positive response from ambassadors of Caribbean nations, who expressed their satisfaction with the resumption of flights. They noted that Air China’s operations to Havana would greatly facilitate travel to other Caribbean countries.

Until now, there were no direct flights connecting China and Cuba, making the Air China Beijing-Madrid-Havana route the sole direct service. The journey to Havana takes nearly 24 hours, with a layover in Madrid, and costs over 8,000 yuan ($1,107), as reported by the Shanghai Morning Post.

The visa-free policy for Chinese passport holders, announced by Cuba in early May, has sparked a surge in online travel searches for Cuba. Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo has also witnessed growing interest in travel to Cuba, indicating the increasing enthusiasm of Chinese netizens towards the Caribbean nation.

Ambassador Blanco Silva acknowledged the rising interest among Chinese netizens and expressed his excitement, stating that the enduring friendship between Cuba and China will continue to be passed down through generations.

To further strengthen cooperation in the tourism sector, the ambassador announced that the Cuban Tourism Minister would begin a visit to China on May 26. The minister’s itinerary includes attending an international travel fair in Shanghai and engaging in direct exchanges with key departments and institutions in China’s tourism and cultural sectors.

The resumption of direct flights and the implementation of the visa-free policy reflect the commitment to building a China-Cuba community with a shared future, in line with the important consensus reached by the top leaders of both countries. These actions promote connectivity, people-to-people exchanges, and reinforce the relationship between China and Cuba.