Hainan Airlines, the Chinese airline that began operating flights to and from Israel a year ago, is launching direct flights betwqen Tel Aviv and Shanghai. The company is also adding a fifth weekly flight to its Tel Aviv-Beijing route in September.
The new Tel Aviv Shanghai route is the result of a marketing agreement between the Ministry of Tourism and Hainan Airlines aimed at increasing Chinese tourist traffic to Israel. The new line makes Hainan the first airline to operate regular direct flights between China's economic capital and Israel. Hainan will receive a grant worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from Israel's Ministry of Tourism for its new route.
Starting on September 12, Hainan will operate three weekly direct flights to Shanghai, landing at Pudong Airport, on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Boeing Dreamliners will be used for the flights (usually 787-900s). Flights will leave Ben Gurion Airport at 1:55 PM, local time, and land in Shanghai at 5:30 AM on the following day. The return flights will leave Shanghai on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays at 1:25 AM and land at Ben Gurion Airport at 8:30 AM on the same day.
According to the company, ticket prices will begin at $670, with a business class ticket costing $2,750.
During the first 12 months of Hainan's business in Israel, from May 16 until April 17, Hainan Airlines flew 76,649 passengers on the Tel Aviv-Beijing-Tel Aviv route. The company said that it had a 63% share of the market for direct flights to and from China, and that 30% of the passengers were Israelis and 70% Chinese. 35,800 tourists entered Israel from China in January-April 2017, and tourist traffic from China to Israel zoomed 116%.
Hainan Airlines' air fleet numbers 177 planes, maintained by the HNA group - a Chinese maintenance giant whose assets include international hotel chains and logistics companies. The opening of another route, less than 18 months after the route to Beijing was launched, constitutes a very impressive vote of confidence in Israel and the Israeli market on the part of the airline.
Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin said, "I congratulate Hainan Airlines for opening the route from Shanghai – another direct route to Israel will bring about new records in the number of tourists from China. We have set a goal of encouraging and aiding airlines to open direct routes from potential sources of incoming tourism, and I am glad that Hainan is expressing confidence in us and continuing its cooperation with us in its business in Israel."
Hainan Israel general manager Li Liang thanked Levin and his ministry for their important support for the measure. He said, "The opening of an additional route less than 18 months after the opening of the original route from Beijing has no precedent in the company. This is a stunning vote of confidence by the airline's headquarters in the Israeli market and in our cooperation with the Israeli government. We have no doubt that the new route from Shanghai will continue to increase the number of Chinese tourists in Israel, and will constitute an additional bridge for reinforcing commercial ties between China and Israel. We currently operate four weekly flights to Beijing, and success has exceeded our expectations. I am confident that the three weekly flights to Shanghai will be a great success."
He added, "Shanghai has a special place in the history of China and the Jewish people. During WWII, Shanghai absorbed 30,000 Jews who escaped from Europe. We are proud to strengthen this connection today by opening the first direct route between China's economic capital and Israel. We will continue to provide the Israeli passenger with a premium product at excellent prices. We will operate the flights to Shanghai with new 787-900 Dreamliners, and we will soon be privileged to see Israeli stewards serving the growing community of our Israeli customers, as part of our efforts to adapt our product to the Israeli market."
Under Levin's grants policy, foreign airlines operating routes from new locations (located at least 120 kilometers from a location from which flights to Israel are already in operation) receive monetary grants. At the end of one year of activity, these airlines receive grants of €250,000 per route. In this case, Hainan Airlines will receive €750,000 at the end of the first year. In order to receive the grants, the airline must present a marketing system for encouraging tourists to visit Israel (through advertising booklets on board the plane, for example). The destinations involved are those with good potential for incoming tourism to Israel, as in the case of Shanghai.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on June 11, 2017
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