BEIJING, March 29 (UPI) -- The Olympic torch plane for the 2008 Summer Games left Beijing International Saturday bound for Athens, Greece.
Once it arrives in Athens, it will collect the famous flame for a six-day swing through Greece before returning to Beijing the following Monday aboard an A330 passenger airliner, Xinhua reported.
The 200-hundred seat aircraft includes 30 spots for special guests, the state-run Chinese news agency reported.
"The aircraft has a specially designed stand to hold the flame while it is in transit," said Tan Zhihong, senior vice president of Air China. "We guarantee it will continue to burn throughout the 11 1/2-hour flight from Athens."
Other reports Saturday said the flame will begin an international relay March 31.
A grand ceremony, to be attended by China's central government leaders, will be held to welcome the flame and officially launch the torch relay of the 2008 Olympic Games, which begin Aug. 8.