Zhu You, senior manager of Air China’s marketing department, said the airline had wanted to open the route since 2006 when they began flying between HCMC, Beijing and Nanning. The flight will take about 3.5 hours from HCMC to Chengdu, and slightly less on return.
“We want to collect ideas from the city’s tour operators about the air route as well as suitable times for passengers from HCMC to travel to Chengdu,” she said.
Sichuan Airlines are also interested in opening the route. “We are here to learn about the operation of the Chengdu-HCMC routes and routes to other destinations in Vietnam,” said Hu Pingshu, the airline’s vice director-general.
Currently, passengers from HCMC need to take a connecting flight from Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai or Nanning to reach Chengdu. Flying from HCMC to Chengdu via Guangzhou takes 4.5 hours – 2.5 hours from HCMC to Guangzhou, then another 2 hours to Chengdu. A direct flight will reduce flying time considerably and minimize tedious airport procedures.
The route was first discussed last October when Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung visited Sichuan.
In on Monday’s meeting, airline representatives and tour operators from HCMC and Sichuan also discussed extra activities to promote tourism to both areas, especially travelers from Vietnam to China.
Lai Huu Phuong, director of Ben Thanh Tourist Travel Service Center, said Vietnamese tourists generally traveled in family groups during the summer and Lunar New Year holidays. He added that they loved to shop and visit historical sites.
“The new air route is not only to attract more Vietnamese travelers but Chinese-Vietnamese who were born in Sichuan,” he said.
La Quoc Khanh, deputy director of HCMC’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said tourism between HCMC and China is growing by about 25% each year.
The city welcomed 140,000 Chinese travelers last year, compared to just 76,000 in 2006. In addition, about 30,000 Vietnamese people traveled to China via the Tan Son Nhat International Airport in 2009.
Zhang Gu, head of Sichuan’s Tourism Promotion Bureau, said that they would sign a memorandum of understanding with the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism in Hanoi on Wednesday, March 10.