An airliner of Chinese airline Hainan Airlines today landed at Ben Gurion Airport. The landing ended the inaugural flight of the company's new Tel Aviv-Shanghai route, with three weekly flights on Boeing Dreamliners.
Because the route is to a new destination, Hainan Airlines will receive a €750,000 grant from the Ministry of Tourism, to be used for marketing efforts aimed at increasing the number of Chinese tourists to Israel, among other things.
Before the first flight, Minister of Transport and Intelligence Yisrael Katz said, "Increasing the number of destinations between Israel and China is likely to provide an incentive for realizing the huge potential of incoming tourism from China, and bolster Israel's exposure as a desirable tourist destination. There are hundreds of thousands of Chinese who admire Israel's history and Jewish sites that attract millions of visitors from all over the world."
Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin, currently on a visit to Shanghai, said yesterday before he took off, "I congratulate Hainan for opening the route from Shanghai to Israel as part of its fruitful cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism. When I became minister, one of my main goals was to increase tourism from China, and we are now seeing a major rise in tourist traffic from that country. I believe that by the end of the year, we will break the record for tourist entries from China, with the number of Chinese tourists visiting Israel exceeding 100,000."
Hainan Airlines VP Hou Wei said, "The entry of Hainan Airlines into Israeli skies has been accompanied by a substantial drop in prices, together with a significant upgrade in service and the operation of a fleet of state-of-the-art airliners. The opening of the Shanghai-Tel Aviv route is a precedent for the company, because it is being opened 18 months after the first route began. We very much believe in the potential of Chinese traffic to Israel; in the Israeli market, which is a pleasant surprise for us; and in the demand that it is generating. Hainan is very seriously considering opening more routes between Israel and China."
Wei added that Hainan had recently completed the recruitment of eight Israeli stewards for its routes to Tel Aviv, in the framework of the company's statement that it would give Israeli passengers a feeling of being at home, with local staff on the company's routes from Tel Aviv.
Hainan launched its first route from Tel Aviv to Beijing in April 2016. The airline announced that it was considering expanding its service on this route, and this month added a fifth weekly flight on the route.
Hainan will operate three weekly flights on the Tel Aviv-Shanghai route: on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. The flights will take off from Ben Gurion Airport at 1:55 pm, Israel time, and land in Shanghai the next day at 5:30 am (local time). Takeoff from Shanghai will be at 1:25 am and landing at Ben Gurion Airport will be at 8:30 pm the same day (Israel time).
Ticket prices on the first three flights will start at $500, after which they will be priced from $600. Prices of business class tickets will start at $2,749.
64,600 visitors from China entered Israel in January-July 2017, 66% more than last year. Hainan flew 50,000 passengers in the first half of 2017.
Hainan's figures show that 40% of those coming to Israel are business people, 30% are classed as "Christian pilgrimage tourists," and 30% are general tourists. The tourist groups usually stay in Israel for six nights.
Hainan, the largest private airline in China with a fleet of 177 planes, is part of the HNA holding company.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on September 12, 2017
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