Does Romania need direct flights on the route Bucharest - Beijing?
On 1 April 2013, I made a farce and announced the route Beijing - Bucharest with China Eastern Airlines. The news was received with great enthusiasm by many Airlines Travel readers. Digi 24 retrieved information (without source) and created an entire report based on them.
I chose to make this joke with the hope that one day we will fly directly from Bucharest to Beijing. And to answer the title question, Romania needs direct flights to ASIA, and China is one of the countries targeted. According to the MAE website, China is Romania's first trading partner in Asia and ranks 18 among foreign investors. In 2004, on the occasion of the state visit to Romania of the RP Chinese President, Hu Jintao, the Joint Declaration of Romania and the People's Republic of China on the Establishment of a Broad Partnership of Friendship and Cooperation was signed. From 2005, Bucharest is a twin city with Beijing.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Victor Ponta was on an official visit to Beijing. In one of the statements, Victor Ponta said: "I proposed to raise the relationship between Romania and China to the highest level that Romania has, that of Strategic Partnership". Victor Ponta wants to fly directly on the Bucharest-Beijing route and will provide Tarom support, if needed, for the opening of this line.
At the moment, TAROM does not have long-haul aircraft and will need support, especially financially, if it wants to purchase aircraft capable of operating the Bucharest - Beijing route. But this I do not think will happen too soon. TAROM is not in a period too good from the economic point of view nor at the level of management. Several members of the TAROM Board of Directors they came in with malicious statements to Christian Heinzmann, private CEO of the airline, perhaps one of the few people who did something for TAROM.
Dan Pascariu, Tarom's CA president, is more pessimistic and said: “How high can the frequency of Bucharest-Beijing flights be so that the planes are full and can be profitable? Because if they are weekly, with the crew staying there for a week, the costs increase so much that in the end such a flight can become unprofitable". (source: obiectiv.info)
I would like to contradict Mr Pascariu and say that the flights from Bucharest to Beijing can be operated with the same aircraft and the same crew even once a week, but with a break of up to 48 hours between flights from Bucharest - Beijing and Beijing - Bucharest. The aircraft could leave Bucharest on a Tuesday and return Thursday as an example. Why stay the crew for a week in Beijing? I think there would be two flights a week. And the accommodation I don't think would be such a big problem compared to the profitability of the race.
I am convinced that flights on the Bucharest - Beijing route can be profitable. There are many Romanian tourists who choose to spend their holidays in China every year, especially in the areas of Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Macau, but also in neighboring countries such as Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, etc. As well, we can attract many more Chinese tourists to Romania.
Many business people of Chinese origin have business in Romania. According to the National Trade Register Office, 30 of Chinese companies and Romanian-Chinese joint ventures were set up in Romania (until 2012 June 10441), the value of Chinese investments in Romania being approx. 410,7 million USD, placing the Chinese RP in the 18 place in the general ranking of the countries that have invested in Romania.
At present, all of them have to fly with scale on the big hubs in Europe. It is tiring, many hours lost on the scale, extra flights, higher costs. Currently, a Bucharest - Beijing flight can take an average of about 13-15 hours on a stopover, and the ticket price starts at about 600 EUR (roundtrip). Direct flights would be much more comfortable and more financially advantageous. Let's not skip the cargo part either. Currently, the exchange of goods takes place on the water and takes a long time. Direct flights would greatly simplify the situation.
And if TAROM does not take advantage of the situation, then it will certainly take advantage of a Chinese company and open the Bucharest - Beijing route. And no, it will not be China Eastern Airlines because it has no main hub at Beijing airport. But I expect Air China, China Southern Airlines or Hainan Airlines. It will probably be a matter of time until we announce the opening of the Bucharest - Beijing route.