China Eastern Airlines is to introduce a direct flight from its home base of Shanghai to the Egyptian capital, Cairo, from December 1, representing its first foray into Africa in more than 15 years.
The second African destination for the Skyteam alliance member will be Johannesburg.
Its previous Johannesburg service was introduced via Male, the capital of the Maldives, in April 2007 but was withdrawn a year later.
The new route will have three roundtrips per week which will be available on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with a flight time of about 13 hours 30 minutes on the outbound leg and 11 hours on the return leg.
EgyptAir is also introducing a flight to China, following a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jingping and Egyptian prime minister Mostafa Madbouly.
According to China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, the two leaders agreed to strengthen ties and work toward “common prosperity”.
In September this year, China Eastern Airlines outlined its growth plans for the next decade, mapping out its intention to open more than 40 regional and long-haul routes from Shanghai.
African destinations listed Cairo and Johannesburg. No timeline was given for the Johannesburg route introduction.
The airline’s international network spans 61 destinations in 31 countries at present, compared to 33 countries in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Overall international capacity is now 70% of pre-pandemic levels, according to data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser, which is a platform for airline schedules analysis.
It plots airline industry trends, monitors new routes, and finds new commercial opportunities.