In the latest expansion of Sichuan Airlines’ intercontinental services, the carrier will add a stop in Helsinki to its service between Copenhagen and Chengdu, China.

The airline has also increased capacity on a service to Istanbul that originates from Chengdu, its home city and the provincial capital of Sichuan.

Helsinki will be inserted into the twice-weekly Chengdu-Copenhagen service beginning in September, the airline said. The route, which opened in December, is operated by Airbus A330-200s. It depends heavily on Chinese tour groups for traffic, industry sources said.

The Chengdu-Istanbul service, flown three times a week, began in April with A330-200s, which were switched to A350-900s in August.

Sichuan Airlines opened a 3X-weekly route between Chengdu and Rome in June, using A330-200s. 

The Italian government agreed in March to participate in China’s Belt and Road economic program, which aims to increase Chinese involvement in foreign economies, especially through infrastructure construction. Chinese tour operators have since increased their promotion of Italy as a destination, industry sources said.

In February, Sichuan Airlines was planning to add New York as a destination, but it appears not to have applied to the Civil Aviation Administration of China to fly there. Hainan Airlines already flies between Chengdu and New York.

In opening long-haul services, Sichuan Airlines is supporting a policy objective of the Sichuan government, which owns 40% of the carrier.

China Southern Airlines owns 39% of Sichuan Airlines, which has a long-haul passenger fleet of six A330-200s, seven A330-300s and four A350-900s, with 10 more on order.

Bradley Perrett,

Research by Ryan Wang