A special promotional Airbus 340-600 was used for the first time to carry deputies from the just-concluded National People's Congress away from Beijing Capital International Airport.
The China Eastern Airlines plane bears the World Expo logo and slogan. The airliner is the first official partner of Shanghai World Expo, said Yang Xiong, vice-mayor of Shanghai at yesterday's contract signing ceremony in Beijing.
The partnership will see the airliner, one of the country's largest carriers, provide funds as well as passenger flight services for the event, said Yang, who is also deputy director of the executive council of the Shanghai World Expo Organizing Committee.
"It is another pioneering moment for a Chinese airline enterprise after Air China signed a deal in 2004 to become the official airline partner of the 2008 Olympic Games," said Yang Yuanyuan, director of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China.
With the theme of "Better City, Better Life," Shanghai World Expo is expected to attract more than 70 million visitors from home and abroad, said Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng. Han is also vice-director of the Shanghai World Expo Organizing Committee.
In World Expo's 150-year history, it has never been held in a developing country, Han said.
Its preparation and organization will involve a lot of work including construction, operation, security, tourist management and catering, according to the committee.
Twenty to 35 partners and sponsors will be selected from more than 40 candidates before 2007, it said.
Covering an area of 5.28 square kilometres, Shanghai World Exposition will be held from May 1 to October 31 in 2010 and plans to invite delegations from more than 200 countries or organizations to the event.