Hainan Airlines has discontinued its direct flights from Tel Aviv to Shanghai. The airline announced that it was "suspending its flights to Shanghai for the coming winter." For now, the suspension applies to the airline's winter schedule, from October 27, 2019 through March 29, 2020. Hainan said that the halt was temporary and due to operational constraints, but provided no details.
The route to Shanghai, launched in September 2017, was the airline's second route between China and Israel, after the launch of direct flights to Beijing a year earlier. Hainan also operates a direct flight to Shenzhen. The routes to Beijing and Shenzhen will continue as scheduled.
Hainan emphasized that the reason for the suspension was not security-related (there is no travel warning for Israel). The airline canceled a flight to Tel Aviv last year following a warning by the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol), due to concern at the time about attacks in the area of Syria.
Hainan received a grant from the Ministry of Tourism for launching the route to Shanghai. The grant, which was given after a year of activity, was intended to pay for marketing and promoting Israel as a tourist destination.
Passengers who have purchased tickets for the canceled flights can obtain either full reimbursement or tickets for another flight via Beijing or Shenzhen.
Starting on October 27, 2019, Hainan will operate three weekly flights to Beijing on Airbus 330 airliners and two weekly flights to Shenzhen on new Boeing Dreamliners.
Hainan Israel general manager Li Liang said, "We very much regret receiving from the company headquarters the news about the suspension of the route to Shanghahi. Suspension of activity on the route is only temporary; we expect to renew activity and to continue serving our many Israeli passengers flying to Shanghai, starting next spring. The company's activity in Israel has achieved impressive commercial success, and we will continue to not only constitute a bridge between China and Israel, but to make all of China accessible to the Israeli passenger with irreproachable service and unprecedented prices."
Hainan flew 96,230 round-trip passengers in January-July 2019, 25% more than in the corresponding period last year. Passenger traffic from Israel to Shanghai since the beginning of the year stands at 37,300 passengers.
El Al Airlines and Sichuan Airlines also operate direct flights between Israel and China.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 2, 2019
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