The Swiss Transport Minister Doris Leuthard took the inaugural flight Swiss Zurich – Beijing to visit five ministers of China and intensify bilateral collaboration.
Switzerland has come close to Beijing in early February, and the Sino-Helvetic relations are looking good. Doris Leuthard has arrived with the first flight of the new Swiss direct link between Zurich and Beijing.
The Minister has left China two days later, pockets full of new collaborative projects. Bilateral trade between the two countries is flourishing, the proposed free trade agreement is progressing well and Chinese tourists are more likely than ever to visit Switzerland.
Swiss has invested nearly 300 million francs to Beijing, the third destination after China Shanghai and Hong Kong, says Harry Hohmeister, chief executive of Swiss International Air Lines Ltd. It is true that beyond the economic interest, the link is an obvious political dimension.
Swissair was one of the leading European companies which linked the West with Beijing in 1975. It was under pressure that the Swiss company had abandoned in 2003 due to non profitability. The restore of the line represents “an important milestone for our company,” said Bruno Gehrig, chairman of the board of Swissair. “China and Switzerland are really close now.”
But it is also this time of “making money,” said Harry Hohmeister, who regretted an unfavorable time slot (take off from Beijing at 6:45), but expressed confidence that “improvements will be available very soon “. As for competition, Hainan Airlines, a Chinese company that offered Beijing – Zurich in June 2011, “There is room for competition,” says Oliver Evans, the director of the cargo division in Swissair: “China is becoming the number one market.”