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Sunday 22 July 2018

Nothing sells airline seats like panda cuteness

Never underestimate the power of cuteness to sell a product.

Just as an adorable Labrador puppy helped sell shiploads of toilet paper, and playful chimpanzees help shift millions of cups of cheap tea, now Sichuan Airlines is hoping a lovable baby panda will help sell airline seats.

The Chengdu-based carrier has adopted a baby panda from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding as part of its mission to "foster strategic partnerships".

The black-and-white baby female, named 3U and nicknamed YouYou, was born on July 15, 2017, and has become the official ambassador of Sichuan Airline's "Panda Route" international flight development program.

The program, launched in 2016, aims to enrich the company's domestic and international route network, enhance passengers' transfer service experience and introduce more destinations in south-western China to the world.

"We're excited to take this opportunity to introduce more people to Sichuan and pandas in a fun way," said Shi Zuyi, general manager of Sichuan Airlines. "Adopting pandas is one of our public welfare activities which supports the protection of endangered animals. It is also a part of Sichuan Airlines' commitment to protect Sichuan culture and to promote it to our international passengers and partners."

Zhang Zhihe, Director of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, said the airline's support will allow both parties to share panda love with the world.

"We expect to welcome more than six million visitors to the base this year, with more than 80% of them coming from outside Sichuan province," he said.

In addition to adopting You You, Sichuan Airlines will carry out panda-themed flights in the future, with more panda elements to be integrated into aircraft cabins and flight meal service, providing passengers from around the world with improved service quality and a comprehensive cultural experience.

An airbus A350 painted with eight pandas, one of which has been inspired by You You, will be assigned to the Chengdu-Beijing route in August 2018 and will become a part of Sichuan Airlines' expansion strategy.

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