Tianjin Airlines will launch a new route from Xi’an to London Heathrow Airport on 9 May and the service is a vital part of the airline’s growth plans and future ambitions.
The carrier will initially fly twice a week until 15 July and then add another frequency to the UK hub, utilising an Airbus A330 on the route.
The Heathrow route represents a big moment for the fast-expanding Tianjin Airlines’ and it has been marketing the links, including supporting the National Musuem of Liverpool from February to October this year to exhibit the Terracotta Warriors, whose home is in Xi’an.
The Chinese carrier’s general manager in the UK, Robert Chen said Heathrow was added to the roster as it fits passengers’ habits in the UK and China and he expects strong demand for services.
He said: “Xi’an as one of the most important cities in central China, has been developed rapidly in recent years. In February, Xi’an was ratified as a National Central City which guaranteed this city a policy support on the trans-meridional developments in terms of transportation and logistics industries.
“Xi’an is the key city in the Belt and Road Initiative, so with the Sino-British cultural exchange going deeper, Xi’an would play a very positive role in the Sino-British economic and cultural cooperation.”
The Heathrow flight to Xi’an will depart at 22:00h every Monday and Friday, arriving into Xi’an at 16:00h the next day and then fly onto Tianjin and arrive at 20:40h.
The return flight will leave Tianjin at 10:55h on Mondays and Fridays, picking passengers up from Xi’an at 15:15h before arriving into Heathrow at 20:00h on the same day (all local times).
The A330 Chen explained will help the carrier meet maximum market demand on the London routes as well as improve the benefit of Tianjin Airline’s operation, and is the most efficient way to action its international strategy.
This aircraft is key to future growth plans and Tianjin Airlines will constantly introduce wide bodies in future years like the A330 to meet international demands and will also welcome two new A350 aircraft into its fleet later in 2018.
The airline started flying an A330 from Chongqing to London Gatwick Airport on 25 June 2016 and Chen said London routes are vitally important.
“Since Tianjin Airlines launched the Chongqing-London routes in 2016, this airline has been operated very well and would keep the positive tendency. Gatwick and Heathrow as the most crucial operational airports are the best choices for Tianjin Airlines,” he added.
Tianjin Airlines is targeting other European routes and Chen explained as its international strategy goes deeper, it will launch other routes from other cities to London, and into France and Spain to improve its international network.
“Europe is an important area for the airway development in the planning of Tianjin Airlines. Again, we will focus on the perfection of the airline’s network,” he said.
Tianjin Airlines is a subsidiary of the HNA Group’s airlines, which also includes Hainan Airlines and Beijing Capital Airlines, who are also launching Heathrow routes.
In 2017, it welcomed 13.65 million passengers, increasing by 13 per cent compared with to 2016. International passengers accounted for 740,000, a seven per cent year-on-year growth while the number of international flights in 2017 reached 4534, a 7.2 per cent rise from 2016.
Tianjin Airlines operates a fleet of nearly 100 aircraft to around 140 destinations throughout China from its eight hubs: Tianjin, Xi’an, Hohhot, Urumqi, Haikou, Sanya, Guiyang and Dalian.
It has an extensive route network across China and also flies to the likes of Shanghai, Dalian, Haikou, Auckland, Melbourne, Moscow, Sydney and cities in Japan.