CLARK FREEPORT -- China Eastern Airlines and Clark International Airport Corporation (Ciac) on Friday formally sealed the pact for the Chinese carrier start its Clark flights to Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport on October 18.

The airline will be augmenting its flight network and use Clark airport as one of its global hubs. China Eastern Airlines is a legacy carrier with a strong presence on routes in Asia, North America and Australia. It offers first class and business class seating, and a frequent-flyer program.

“The great news is that travelers from North and Central Luzon may now fly China Eastern from Clark to Shanghai and easily connect to the US and other major destinations in Europe and Asia and other international routes,” Alexander Cauguiran, Ciac head, earlier said.

“China Eastern also targets mostly business travelers and Chinese family tourists who wish to visit popular local destinations, and that influx (of Chinese tourists) will boost the local hotel industry and business communities in North and Central Luzon,” Cauguiran added.

A representative of China Eastern said the airline is keen on mounting flights via Clark as it is “encouraged by its marketability and the increasing number of its local destinations.”

The Department of Tourism (DOT) counts China as the third largest market of Philippine tourism.

Around 630,000 Chinese tourists visited the Philippines from January to November 2016 but with warmer ties with Beijing, the DOT expects this number of arrivals to double by the end of 2017.