Air France-KLM on Thursday claimed to have become the first passenger airline to link China's central heartland with Europe, as it launched a service between Paris and Wuhan.
An Air France-KLM Boeing 777-200 ER aircraft will fly the route three times a week. A one-way trip takes about 11 and a half hours, bringing Europe closer to central China, according to Peng Jun, an official with the municipal transport committee.
By the end of 2011, Wuhan had been linked to 11 cities outside the Chinese mainland by air. The city will benefit from at least eight more international routes this year, including one to the United States, Peng and other officials added.
The number of international destinations that can be reached by air from Wuhan will further increase to 40 by 2030, making the city China's fourth-largest air transport hub after Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, they said.
Thursday's launch is one of the events marking "French Week," held in Wuhan from April 12 to 18 to promote cooperation on trade, education, science and technology. Wuhan is a top choice for French investors in China.
Other events include launching a bio-science center, hosting a transportation symposium, a genetic science workshop, a French singing competition, French wine promotions, food and arts festivals.