Air China plans to inaugurate regularly scheduled direct flights to Israel next spring, to reciprocate for the service which El Al began Sept. 3 to Beijing.
Lian Fang Cai, regional sales manager for Europe of the Chinese national airline, spoke of the plan with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, which came along on El Al’s inaugural flight to the Chinese capital.
The Israeli airline’s newest service opened up a direct air route between Israel and the Far East, replacing the circuitous journeys Israelis have taken in the past through other countries.
The first group of Israelis to fly directly here from Israel was greeted in what was described as an unusually cordial welcome as it began a 10-day tour.
Israeli journalists, travel agents and airline representatives were the guests of Lu Fen Yan, president of the China International Travel Service and reportedly a senior and influential member of the Cabinet, at a reception held in the Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square.
Welcoming the Israelis, she expressed hoped their visit would herald the start of fruitful cooperation between the two countries.
China and Israel established diplomatic relations in January.
El Al reciprocated the Chinese welcome the following evening with a reception for officials of the China Travel Service and Air China, the airline of the People’s Republic of China, which also operates, through local subsidiaries, China Northwest, China East, China Southeast, Shanghai Air and other airlines.
The inevitable inaugural difficulties were handed capably by El Al personnel, as well as tour guides and officials of the Geographic-Neot Hakikar Travel Agency, which for several years has organized tours to China and the Far East for Israelis via roundabout routes with other airlines.