The flights for anti-pandemic supplies between China and Italy became a focus of China Eastern Air Holding Co. Ltd (China Eastern) amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The company carried China's first chartered flight sending medical experts to Italy on March 12, 2020. Some Chinese medical workers and anti-pandemic supplies were also on board.
Later, the company arranged another two chartered flights to send medical experts and anti-pandemic supplies to Milan.
China Eastern opened its first flight to Italy in March 2011. Thanks to development of the Belt and Road Initiative, the flights of the company from Shanghai to Rome have increased to current seven a week.
So far, more than 1 million passengers have traveled between the two countries by the airline.
Cai Shuxiang, general-manager at China Eastern's Roman sales department, said that Italy is now a popular tourism destination for Chinese tourists, and vice versa.
China Eastern shortened travel time to Italy by 15 minutes through optimizing air routes, in which way both the operation costs and carbon dioxide emissions were reduced.
The airline's sales department also plays a role in promoting business, trade and cultural exchange between the two countries.
For example, at the end of 2020 a report was released based on the survey on China Eastern's development in Italy. It focuses on the role that China-Italy civil aviation cooperation plays in the two countries’ cultural and tourism development under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Since 2013, it has offered discount air tickets to nearly a thousand Italian students to Shanghai, where they can learn about Chinese history and the country's development.
(Executive editor: Wang Ruoting)