China's flag carrier has opened a commercial office in Cuba, aimed at boosting tourism and trade. Air China's Havana service is the only direct flight between Beijing and the Caribbean.
China's ambassador to Cuba joined the general in charge of Cuba's civil aviation authority for the official ribbon cutting ceremony.
Air China's inaugural direct flight to Havana was in December 2015. Since then, some 24,000 passengers of various nationalities have used the service. There is a stopover in Montreal and much of its business is serving the large Chinese community on the east coast of Canada. It also provides competition with Air Canada for the Cuban leg of the journey.
Before these direct Air China flights, most visitors flew with Aeroflot or Air France, changing planes in Moscow or Paris. By opening a commercial office in Cuba, Air China is raising the flag in what remains a competitive market.