Hainan Airlines is launching a new route from Tel Aviv to Shenzhen in China. The new route will replace the Chinese carrier's flights between Tel Aviv and Guangzhou.
Shenzhen, which has 20 million residents, is a 30-minute ride from Guangzhou on the high-speed railway between the two cities. Hainan will receive a substantial grant for the new route for moving the route from the Shenzhen local government, which wants to make the city an international hub. Hainan operates flights from Shenzhen to a number of destinations, including Osaka, Japan; Auckland, New Zealand; and Brisbane, Australia, which creates the possibility of connection flights from Israel to these destinations. Hainan also operates direct flights from Tel Aviv to Beijing and Shanghai.
Due to Shenzhen's proximity to Hong Kong, Hainan will not receive a grant from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism for opening the new route, but the grant it receives from the Shenzhen government will make up for this. The large companies located in Shenzhen, including Huawei and Tencent, make the city primarily a business destination.
Termination of Hainan's route from Guangzhou will enable another Chinese airline, China Eastern, to replace it with its own direct flights to Tel Aviv. A third Chinese airline, Sichuan Airlines, launched a direct route from Tel Aviv to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, in 2018.
The routes to China are increasing, but the number of Chinese tourists visiting Israel is falling. A travel warning by the Chinese government in 2018 and concern about the security situation in the region have kept Chinese away from Israel. Of the 4.1 million tourists who visited Israel in 2018, 104,500 were from China, compared with 122,500 in 2017, a 15% decline. The Chinese government has already rescinded its travel warning, arousing hope of an increase in tourism in 2019 from China, which boasts one of the biggest increases in outgoing tourism, together with India.
Hainan will operate two weekly flights between Tel Aviv and Shenzhen, starting on February 22, 2019. Dreamliners will be used for these flights, taking off around noon from Israel and at night in the return flights from China. Price of flights appearing on Hainan's website start at $650 for roundtrip flights with "economy cyber" class seats.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 16, 2019
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