China Eastern Airlines has opened a new base at Xiamen, as it hints at launching cross-strait flights into Taiwan, among other future international expansion plans. 

Explaining what it labels a “major strategic decision”, the carrier says the Xiamen base will — among other reasons — “promote the integrated development of both sides of the Taiwan Strait”. 

It adds that it was the first Mainland Chinese carrier to have operate charter flights between Taiwan and China, and has the most number of cross-straits flights. 

However, the SkyTeam carrier did not provide a timeline of when it intends to launch flights from its Xiamen base.

China Eastern currently has no flights to Taiwan from Xiamen. Cirium schedules data indicates the carrier flies to 13 domestic points from Xiamen, including to its hubs of Kunming, Shanghai Pudong and Shanghai Hongqiao. 

China Eastern plans to base up to 40 aircraft in Xiamen by 2025. It will also boost capacity on major trunk routes from Xiamen, including to Beijing, Shanghai and Kunming. 

The carrier will also be looking to launch international flights from the city, first to Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia. In the longer term, it plans to fly from Xiamen to points in Europe and North America. 

China Eastern states that the Xiamen base, which is home to fellow SkyTeam carrier Xiamen Airlines, will be a “new node” of cooperation between alliance partners. 

The carrier’s move comes a month after it announced plans to expand into the Chinese island of Hainan, establishing Sanya International Airlines to support the central government’s plan to turn Hainan into a free trade zone. 

In January, the carrier said it was looking to grow its presence in Shenzhen, having inked an agreement with the Shenzhen Airport Group to cooperate in network expansion, aviation logistics industrial development, as well as joint marketing efforts.