China’s Lucky Air plans first long-haul routes

Photo by Nutkamol Komolvanich
Photo by Nutkamol Komolvanich

Lucky Air, the Kunming-based subsidiary of China’s HNA Group, is planning to spread its wings east and west, with the launch of new international flights to the US and Europe.

The airline has applied to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) for permission to launch its first ever cross-continental services later this year. If approved, twice weekly flights from Kunming to both Moscow and Los Angeles could commence as early as in December.

Lucky Air does not currently operate any long-haul aircraft, but it plans to borrow Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft from Hainan Airlines, another HNA Group company, to enable its long-haul growth.

The expansion of Lucky Air marks the continuation of HNA Group’s long-haul strategy. Hainan Airlines has been gradually expanding its long-haul network in recent years, most notably in North America, and last year Beijing-based Capital Airlines commenced its first long-haul routes to Europe. And earlier this year, Tianjin Airlines launched its inaugural long-haul flights to Moscow and London.

Lucky Air will become the second carrier to operate long-haul international flights from Kunming, after China Eastern Airlines, which currently connects the Yunnan provincial capital with Paris and Vancouver.

At present, Lucky Air operates domestic and short-haul international services to destinations in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, South Korea and Taiwan, using a fleet of 30 single-aisle Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft. But it plans to more than double its fleet by end of 2020.

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