(de Ware Tijd) PARAMARIBO – Airline SLM has spread its wings to the world’s largest aviation market, China, and has appointed an official general sales manager. Bun-Air Travel Services (BTS), which is headquartered in Hong Kong and is to open a branch in Shanghai, will serve the SLM’s interests in China. This means potential passengers from China can book with our national carrier in their own country. This move completes the cooperation agreement with Chinese airlines China Southern and Cathay Pacific to fly SLM passengers between Amsterdam and Asia. “As of 1 April, people need not travel all the way to Amsterdam to do business with SLM”, SLM director Ewald Henshuys says. Yesterday he signed the agreement with BTS after a year of preparations. Chris Cramer, a Dutch consultant who has helped forge this cooperation, says the demand, namely from China, is there. “It certainly involves hundreds of people who are just coming to work in mining and road construction”. The BTS representative says his company will promote SLM among 1,600 travel agents in Hong Kong alone. Not only the business market, but the tourist market will be covered too. “Every year, 13 million Chinese travel, and if just one percent of them can be persuaded to come to Suriname, there won’t be enough accommodations for them”, Cramer says. He reveals that talks are ongoing with Foreign Affairs to make issuance of residency permits and visa in China possible. Henshuys pointed out that in Suriname there is certainly a need to make flying to Asia easier because of the Chinese community here which numbers between 30,000 and 40,000. “This is the first step”, the SLM executive said. Another step the airline is planning to take, possibly within one month, is appointing an agent for European countries including Germany, Belgium and the Scandinavian countries. Henshuys hopes this agreement can be signed next month.