China’s Hainan province has announced the launch of its first intercontinental route between Sanya and London after China unveiled its plan to build Hainan Island into its pilot international free-trade zone.
The maiden voyage carried 214 passengers on a non-stop flight from Sanya’s Phoenix International Airport on 12 July and it was filled to 99% capacity. This new flight route not only links Hainan and Europe, but also adds a UK stop to Hainan’s international flights.
The launching ceremony for the maiden voyage was held by the provincial government of Hainan and China Southern Airlines Company Limited.
Development of the aviation industry
China Southern Airlines’ CZ651 departs Sanya at 1300 CST every Thursday and Sunday, and arrives in London at 1845 BST. For the return journey, CZ652 departs London at 2210 BST and arrives in Sanya at 1620 CST the next day. The total flight time is about 12 hours and 45 minutes.
“Attract more visitors from the UK to spend their holidays in Sanya”
The British Consulate General Guangzhou acting consul general Andrew Ould said, “Hainan is facilitating the construction of China’s free-trade zone. I believe that the launch of the direct flight between Sanya and London will help attract more visitors from the UK to spend their holidays in Sanya and UK-based companies to invest and establish facilities in the city.” Ould also shared several favourable policies concerning UK tourists applying for visas.
A Dong, mayor of Sanya, said that since Europe has become a popular destination among Chinese tourists, Sanya’s tourism service providers have also increased their focus on the European market, especially London. The route between Sanya and London is a step towards implementing Hainan’s strategy to allow travellers from 59 countries to enjoy visa-free access to Sanya and will help Sanya deepen communication, trade, and cultural and tourism exchanges with the UK and Europe and contributes to Hainan’s status as an international free-trade zone.
Sanya has witnessed incredible growth in its tourism industry. A year-on-year growth in inbound tours have encouraged airlines to accelerate international expansion. Sanya recorded approximately 450,000 visitors in 2016 and that figure increased to 700,000 in 2017.