HNA Group airlines Hainan Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines and Tianjin Airlines yesterday officially launched their new London Heathrow Airport routes to China.
A drinks reception and lunch with speeches took place at the Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard, which was attended by key figures from all three airlines, along with travel and aviation industry representatives and journalists.
Hainan Airlines’ new three times a week service on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays to and from Changsha started on 23 March utilising a Boeing 787-800 and will go to the larger 787-900 on 1 September, adding to a route it already runs from Beijing to Manchester, which started in May last year using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The carrier has also applied to the Civil Aviation Administration of China to start a three-weekly service from Guangzhou – Manchester in December this year.
Beijing Capital Airlines twice weekly services on Mondays and Fridays to Qingdao begun on 26 March using an Airbus A330-200. These services will provide more than 217,000 new seats every year for passengers, travelling to and from China.
Tianjin Airlines will start services on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays to X’ian – Tianjin on 9 May using an A330-200. The carrier already operates a service from London Gatwick Airport to Chongqing. The carrier will initially fly twice a week to Heathrow until 15 July and then add another frequency to the UK hub.
Speaking at the event, Tianjin Airlines’ general manager in the UK, Robert Chen (pictured above) said the new route to Xi’an heralds the start of its international network expansion and will present more opportunities for growth in future.
The fast-growing carrier already operates an A330 from Chongqing to London Gatwick Airport on 25 June 2016 and is targeting more connections into Europe and is looking at starting other routes from cities in China to London, and into France and Spain to improve its international network.
As part of its growth it will constantly introduce widebody aircraft in future years like the A330 to meet international demands and will also welcome two new A350 aircraft into its fleet later in 2018.