Alitalia today began direct, non-stop flights from Rome to Beijing after a three year absence on the route between the two capital cities. Alitalia’s first direct flight from Rome to Beijing took off at 2.20 pm today from Rome’s Fiumicino airport.
The inaugural flight was commentated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Fiumicino airport by Alitalia’s CEO Cramer Ball, the Heritage, Arts and Tourism Minister, Dario Franceschini, the Deputy Mayor of Fiumicino, Anna Maria Anselmi, and the Head of Aviation Marketing Development of Aeroporti di Roma, Fausto Palombelli.
Mr. Ball said: "We have introduced a trio of new intercontinental routes from Rome in 2016 and today's new service to Beijing joins the recently launched destinations of Santiago and Mexico City, an eight per cent increase in the number of our long haul flights we offer. Alitalia is committed totally to the Chinese market and wants to grow its presence in China. We are a different company than a few years ago: we have made major investments for enhancing products and services; we have put in place important commercial agreements with Chinese partners and we have a strong industrial partnership which supports us in this challenge.
The new service to the Chinese capital city is an important investment for Alitalia as part of our strategic growth to serve long haul destinations for the benefit of business and leisure travellers. Italian exports to China will have the opportunity to rise the air link should encourage the number of tourists from the Far East to Italy.”
The new route will be served four times a week - Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday – departing at 2.20 pm from Rome and landing in Beijing at 6.20 am (local time) the following day. The return flight departs from Beijing every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 9.15 am (local time) and arrives in Rome at 2.25 pm.
Flight times are scheduled to allow Alitalia passengers from 50 cities in Italy, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa to travel to the Chinese capital by taking advantage of convenient connections at Rome Fiumicino, the airline's main airport for transferring passengers (which obtained the ‘Welcome Chinese Certification’, the only hospitality standard recognized by Chinese authorities and specifically dedicated to Chinese travelers).
Travellers can also connect to many other cities across China from Beijing. Alitalia has special agreements with major Chinese airlines, including SkyTeam partners China Eastern and China Southern*, plus Hainan Airlines*, to serve more than 30 destinations throughout China.
The Airbus A330 aircraft used on the Rome-Beijing service has 250 seats in three cabins; business, premium economy and economy. All classes feature newly renovated interiors and include Wi-Fi connectivity for phone calls, internet and e-mail.
Companies doing business with China will also have the opportunity to send or receive goods more easily as the aircraft has a monthly cargo capacity of 300 tonnes. Alitalia's Far East network from Rome includes 22 weekly services to and from Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul.
Tickets for the new Rome-Beijing service can be bought online at alitalia.com, by calling the Alitalia Customer Centre on 89.20.10 or +39.06.65649 from overseas, at travel agencies and at airport ticket offices.
Members of Alitalia's MilleMiglia loyalty programme can earn and redeem miles on the new service, and if they travel on or before 18 September they will receive a bonus of an extra 5,000 miles.
*subject to government approval
Alitalia’s new direct Rome-Beijing service
Alitalia is flying back to China with a new direct service between Rome and Beijing operated four times a week with Airbus A330 aircraft offering 250 seats and three classes of service - business, premium economy and economy - with completely refurbished cabin interiors to reflect Italian elegance and style.
Passengers can relax in luxurious Italian brand Poltrona Frau leather seats that fully recline to a comfortable flatbed position, and enjoy onboard fine dining menu which has won the prestigious “Best Airline Cuisine” award from the American magazine "Global Traveler”. The onboard menu features the best of Italian regional food accompanied by wines from the country’s best estates and the “Ferrari Trento DOC” sparkling wines. Alitalia’s new 'dine anytime' meal service allows customers to decide when they prefer to eat. After their meal, business class passengers will also have the chance to choose from a special coffee menu, offering three different blends of espresso selected for Alitalia by the famous Italian brand Lavazza. Wi-Fi connectivity is available on board all flights between the two cities for phone calls, Internet and e-mail.
Two Mandarin-speaking flight attendants will be on board to assist Chinese passengers. Alitalia will offer every month 8,200 passenger seats per month on the Rome-Beijing route and up to 300 tonnes of cargo capacity Alitalia’s MilleMiglia frequent flyer members can spend and redeem miles on the new flight and if they purchase a ticket to or from Beijing for travel before 18 September they will earn up to 5,000 extra bonus miles.
Alitalia in the Far East
Alitalia has strengthened its Far East,route network and it now operates 22 weekly frequencies to and from three destinations. Beijing (four weekly flights), Tokyo (seven weekly flights from Rome Fiumicino and seven from Milan Malpensa) and Seoul (four weekly flights). Alitalia also has important agreements with major Chinese airlines, including SkyTeam partners China Eastern and China Southern*, plus Hainan Airlines*, to serve more than 30 destinations in China beyond Beijing.
*subject to government approval.
Italy-China economic relations
China, the world's second largest economy after the United States, has close commercial ties with Italy. The Italian and Chinese governments are committed to strengthen relations between their two economies, and set up in 2014 the Italy-China Business Forum to achieve this goal. According to Eurostat data, trade in 2015 between Italy and China amounted to €38.6 billion, up 8.5 per cent on 2014, with Chinese imports to Italy rising by about 12.3 per cent and levels of Italian exports to China remaining stable. Italy is China’s fourth largest trading partner in Europe.
Italy's main exports to China are from the engineering, fashion, automobile and pharmaceutical sectors. In the food industry, Italy is China’s leading supplier of chocolate and pasta, its second of olive oil, mineral water and sparkling wines. Around 2,000 Italian companies have set up in China and account for more than 60,000 jobs and an annual turnover of around €5 billion.
Tourism between China and Italy
Some 3.5 million Chinese tourists visited Europe last year and 1.4 million travelled to Italy to visit the main cities of art - Rome, Venice and Florence - and Milan for shopping. A report at Milan’s international tourism fair (BIT) in 2015 showed that between 2000 and 2013 the number of Italian visitors to China more than tripled, with more than 250,000 visitors a year.
Sources: Alitalia, Italian Embassy in China, Eurostat, BIT 2015