Naha-Beijing route restarts nine months after Senkakus dispute

Naha-Beijing route restarts nine months after Senkakus dispute

July 4, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On July 3, Air China restarted its Naha-Beijing service that had been suspended from October 10, 2012 because of the Senkaku Islands dispute between Japan and China. At 7:00 p.m. that evening 136 people arrived at Naha Airport from Beijing and 59 people went to Beijing on the same airplane.

The Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau and others held a welcome ceremony at the arrival lobby in Naha Airport. Si-wei Ge, who is visiting Okinawa for the first time, said, “I came here on a friend’s introduction. I would like to see Shuri Castle and visit the areas around the U.S. military bases.”

To help promote Okinawan tourism, the bureau invited 12 people from seven media related companies, such as China Central Television and Beijing News. Shojin Heshiki, executive director of the bureau, stated, “The route is an important bridge between Beijing and Okinawa, and I hope it will promote exchange between the two regions.”

Air China runs two shuttle flights on the route every week on Wednesday and Saturday. Yi Yang, Okinawa branch manager of the company, said, “We resumed the service in the expectation of a demand for summer travel. About 70 percent of seats for travel in July and August are booked, which is good.”

Hainan Airlines suspended its Naha-Beijing service last September. China Eastern Airlines operates the Naha-Shanghai route, but Juneyao Airlines has postponed its new service on the route that was scheduled to start last September.

(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)

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