China’s Hainan Airlines has begun operating a direct Beijing – Tel Aviv route this week, joining Israeli airline El Al as one of the only two airlines operating an Israel – China route.
“We want to be ready with the best aircrews for our flights to Israel, said Li Liang, the general manager of the Hainan offices in Israel, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.”Today Israel is a very important destination for us.”
Currently Hainan will only operate the route three times per week, but eventually the airline expects to include a flight route from Shanghai and Hong Kong through its sister airline Hong Kong Airlines.
During the ceremony celebrating the first flight, Israeli Tourism Minister Yariv Levin described the importance of China for Israel, and said his office will increase the annual marketing budget for China from 1 million to 15 million shekels.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz also added that the new flight route will strengthen ties between the two countries, reduce costs of flights from Israel to China, and boost the tourism sector.
Established in 1989, Hainan Airlines is China’s largest privately-owned airline and fourth largest overall. The airline is one of only seven Asian airlines rated as five star by Skytrax, an airline review and ranking company, along with All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Garuda Indonesia, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines.