The frequency of the only direct flight between Portugal and China is to increase to four times a week from the current two.
A source from Turismo de Portugal confirmed to Lusa the flight increase “at a time when Beijing is trying to boost foreign travel links”.
The direct flight between the two countries is between Lisbon and Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, one of China’s most prosperous with around 53 million inhabitants, located on the country’s east coast.
The flight, by Beijing Capital Airlines, has been taking place only on Thursdays and Saturdays but as of this week will also operate on Tuesdays and Sundays. Flights will continue to be provided by A330 aircraft.
The route was impacted by preventative measures adopted by China against Covid-19: since 2020, it had been operating only once a week, originally to Xian, in central China.
The Xian authorities suspended the connection with Lisbon on 25 December 2021, at a time when the city was facing an outbreak of Covid-19, and only resumed flights on 12 June 2022.
The airline then opted for Hangzhou airport instead and, in September 2022, increased the frequency of flights to twice a week.
Earlier this year, China removed most preventive measures, but regional data shows that the number of visitors remains far below the 2019 level. China has not published official statistics on tourism at national level since 2021.
More than 385,000 Chinese visited Portugal in 2019, the last year before the pandemic. Tourists from China spent a total of EUR224 million in the country, up 20% from 2018, according to data from Portugal’s national tourist board, Turismo de Portugal.