Polish Airlines resumes flights to Beijing

Beijing (China Daily/ANN) - LOT Polish Airlines, the flag carrier of Poland, resumed direct flights between Warsaw and Beijing for the fourth time on Wednesday and is confident about the route's prospects.

"We will be successful this time," Marcin Pirog, president and CEO of Polish Airlines, said on Friday.

Growing business exchanges between the two countries led the carrier to relaunch the route.

The carrier, one of the world's oldest airlines, was established in 1929.

Each time it had previously opened the route - in 1987, 1989 and 2008 - these efforts failed due to a lack of demand.

Beijing is the carrier's first destination in Asia.

The Polish Information and Foreign Investment Agency said that China is already one of the Poland's major sources of foreign investment.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, bilateral trade between the two countries increased 13.7 percent year-on-year from January to September last year. China is Poland's fifth-largest source of imports.

Trade ties between China and Poland have been developing at a rapid pace, especially since Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski visited China in December, the first visit to China by a Polish head of state in 14 years.

"Business travel between China and Poland has been booming in the past few months," said Pirog.

The upcoming 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, to be co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine from June 9 to July 2, could also bring plenty of passengers to Polish Airlines, business insiders said.

According to the airline's ticket booking system, the load factor of the route will be 70 to 75 percent this month.

Pirog said that the airline was aiming for a load factor of 75 to 85 percent on the route by the end of the year.

"We plan to make profit from the route by 2014," he added.

Pirog attributed the route's previous problems to inconvenient departure and landing times, and no right to fly over Russia, which made the flight one hour longer. Both problems were solved this year.

In addition, Polish Vice-President Waldemar Pawlak told the China-Poland Economic Forum in Beijing that direct flights would promote the two countries' infrastructure construction, energy and high-tech cooperation.

Polish Airlines currently operates three flights a week on the route, and the flying time is about nine hours.

The route will have daily flights after Polish Airlines' first Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft is delivered and becomes operational in November.

Lagging behind other major European airlines, Polish Airlines is working to open its second route to China by 2014, with Shenzhen in Guangdong province being a possibility.

"We also have other choices, like Shanghai," said Pirog.

Polish Airlines shares flight codes with Air China Limited in China, as both of them are members of Star Alliance, one of the world's three largest airlines alliances.

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