Chinese airline Hainan is said to be close to coming to an agreement with the Dublin Airport Authority to begin operating a direct route between Dublin and Beijing this winter.
The Irish Independent reports that the route would run on alternate days to Dublin and Edinburgh, which has made discussions between the DAA and Hainan more complex due to the affect the alternating dates would have on scheduling.
However, Fine Gael councillor Tom O'Leary has said that the negotiations are "progressing very positively", despite the apparent difficulties. He stated that his "understanding is that flights may possibly commence in October."
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Tourism Ireland CEO Niall Gibbons expressed enthusiasm about the idea of a direct route between Dublin and Beijing, asserting, "We have worked very closely with DAA on this and we put a proposal on the table in relation to joint marketing with Hainan and that is in place. We are very excited about the prospect of this flight."
Commenting on the importance of the Chinese market to the Irish hospitality industry, he added, "We had originally put together a strategy to see 50,000 Chinese visitors by 2017 and the latest indications from 2016 data is that there were possibly as high as 70,000 Chinese visitors. We know that attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse are already up 40% on Chinese visitors this year."