Hainan Airlines signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Brussels Airport at the signing ceremony for the China-Belgium Economic and Trade Cooperation held in Beijing on October 31, in the presence of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.
During the ceremony, the two companies announced the launch of new Shanghai-Brussels flight service, scheduled to commence in 2017. Zhang Ling, chairman of HNA Tourism Group, and Sun Jianfeng, a member of the executive management team at Hainan Airlines, attended the event along with Brussels Airport CEO Arnaud Feist.
In 2006, Hainan Airlines launched Beijing-Brussels service, creating an air bridge for friendly exchanges between China and Brussels, headquarters for the vast majority of the European Union’s institutions. In 2015, 114,000 passengers took the flight, an increase nearing five times the number that flew the route during its first year of service. In March 2016, Hainan Airlines held a “Remembrance at 10,000 Meters” ceremony to convey its support for the people affected by the Brussels terrorism attack.
Hainan Airlines’ executive Sun Jianfeng said:
“The airline is committed to supporting China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, the Chinese government’s program to develop trade through and with the countries that lie along the ancient Silk Road overland and seaborne trade routes, by providing an air bridge linking China and countries across Eurasia. The exchanges between China and other Eurasian countries, as well as the connection between Chinese and world markets, play a key role in implementing the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. The air bridge being put in place by the aviation industry now replaces the camels and horses that were once used for transportation along the ancient Silk Road trade routes.”
Hainan Airlines now operates eight European routes, including the Beijing-Brussels, Beijing-Berlin, Beijing-Moscow, Beijing-Saint Petersburg, Hangzhou-Xi’an-Paris, Chongqing-Rome, Beijing-Prague and Beijing- Manchester routes. By the end of 2015, Hainan Airlines’ passenger loads to and from European destinations accounted for over 30 percent of the international total. In 2015, the company increased its capacity servicing Europe by 41 percent from the prior year.
The airline has, to date, launched over 700 inbound and outbound routes connecting passengers to more than 100 cities around the world, with comprehensive coverage extending into Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania.