A Chinese airline based in the southwestern Sichuan Province, Sichuan Airlines, is expected to launch flights to Turkey from Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan, China's Consul General in Istanbul Cui Wei told Demirören News Agency (DHA). Sichuan Airlines conducts regional flights to 93 destinations and has 139 airplanes in its fleet.
As the number of Chinese tourists visiting Turkey has been on the rise again, Chinese airlines are resuming their flights to the country and new ones are entering the Turkish market. For instance, China Southern Airlines resumed flights again at the end of last year. Cui further said China also allowed Onur Air to fly to a large city in the southwestern region of the country a few years ago, continuing, "It has not started yet, but I have recently received new information about flights to start in the region."
The number of Chinese tourists in Turkey in 2018 soared by 59 percent year-on-year. Indicating that whether Chinese tourists come here or not is something that neither the Chinese nor the Turkish government can control, Cui stated: "We can just direct them. Traveling for tourism is entirely a personal decision." Cui also added that more than 400,000 Chinese tourists visited Turkey last year, repeating the figures from previous years.
Highlighting that they will continue to inform Chinese people about Turkey, Cui said when a Chinese person chooses a destination, he or she considers many factors, including attraction in terms of natural beauty, history and civilization. Cui added that Turkey ranks first in the world in this sense.
Indicating that he has been living in Turkey for a long time, Cui said Turkey is very rich in holiday spots and historical beauty. Stressing that another factor in Chinese tourists' travel preferences is security, the consul general stated that the Chinese also look at whether the country they visit is sincere.
In response to a question about the demands of Turkish carriers increasing flight frequency, Cui said, "The businessmen I meet here ask if Chinese airline companies do not fly to Turkey due to political reasons or we do not allow Turkish airline companies to fly to China."
Recalling that he came to Turkey in January last year and had been working in foreign affairs in China for a long time, the consul general said, "I have been fully engaged in consultations with Turkey."
Pointing out that Turkish Airlines offers flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou on a daily basis, as well as five flights to Hong Kong weekly, Cui said the Turkish flag carrier applied to China several years ago to conduct more flights. "We responded to them after meeting with aviation authorities. In principle, there is no problem in this issue; however, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou airports are working in full capacity. We have been working to expand the capacity of airports in both Beijing and Shanghai. We responded to them that we would meet from now on," he told.