Dragonair adds China service for summer

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HONG KONG -- Hong Kong-based Dragonair boosted flight frequencies throughout much of its China network this summer.

The airline increased the number of flights it operates from 173 to a maximum of 205 a week -- an all-time high for the carrier.

Mainland China received the biggest increase in service, with Shanghai and Beijing at the top of the list.

"Summer is always a busy season for us, and this year we are expecting demand to our mainland destinations to be the strongest it has ever been," said James Yeung, Dragonair's general manager, commercial.

"Much of the traffic is business-related [in advance] of China's anticipated entry into the World Trade Organization later this year," Yeung said.

The summer timetable officially kicked off March 25 and runs until Oct. 27.

Flights to Shanghai increased from 40 to 46 a week through May 31, then rose to 48 a week for the remainder of the schedule.

Service to Beijing jumped to 32 flights a week, up from 27. Starting June 1, flights grew to 37 a week.

The midseason increase coincides with the addition of an Airbus 330 to Dragonair's fleet in May. Another A330 is due to enter service in July.

In addition to Shanghai and Beijing, the mainland cities of Changsha, Chongqing, Fuzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao and Wuhan will see more flights. Service also will be increased to Kao-hsiung in Taiwan.

In other Dragonair news, the airline opened its Elite frequent flyer program for general enrollment.

The club was launched late last year with membership initially by invitation only.

Privileges include access to Dragonair lounges in Hong Kong and Kao-hsiung, advance seat reservations, extra luggage allowance and priority luggage handling.

Elite members also qualify for discounts and upgrades at hotels, limousine firms and duty-free outlets.

Elite has two membership tiers -- Platinum and Gold. All members enroll at the Gold level and can upgrade to the Platinum level.

Meanwhile, Dragonair now offers three levels of cabin service after adding business class to its entire A330 fleet earlier this year.

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