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Hainan Air launches direct flights between Haikou, UAE

Updated: Feb 8, 2024 By CHEN BOWEN in Haikou China Daily Print
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Passengers checking in for flight HU763 to ABU Dhabi at Terminal 2 of Haikou Meilan International Airport on Jan 29, 2024. [Photo/VCG]

An increase in inbound visits to South China's Hainan province is underway, aligning with the province's efforts to launch and restore more international flight routes.

The first international air route between the tropical island province and the Middle East has commenced. The inaugural run of Hainan Airlines flight HU763 departing from Haikou Meilan International Airport to Abu Dhabi last week signifies a new chapter in connectivity between the two regions.

"The year 2024 marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the UAE. The new route plays a positive role in promoting Haikou Meilan International Airport to building a regional aviation gateway hub facing the Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean," said Yang Xiaobin, president of Hainan Airport Group.

"It is also an innovative attempt by Hainan Airport Group to develop overseas routes together with cross-border e-commerce and air cargo business," Yang said.

Hainan Airport Group signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Dubai Integrated Economic Zones to cooperate alongside Abu Dhabi Airports during the China Hainan Free Trade Port-UAE Promotion Conference, under the theme: "Exchanging new development, sharing new opportunities", held in September in Dubai. The cooperation underscores the commitment to gradually fostering precise investment channels for the global aviation industry.

Hainan restored and opened 50 overseas passenger and cargo routes in 2023, aiming to enhance its global connectivity. The restoration of Hainan's main passenger source markets, including routes with Hong Kong, Singapore and Bangkok, holds promise for reinvigorating travel and trade ties in the post-pandemic landscape.

This year, the province plans to restore 62 overseas routes, Yang said.

The launch of the twice-weekly flights "marks an important milestone for Abu Dhabi Airports and the broader UAE-China relationship. The launch of this new route boosts our connectivity, and the route will further enhance bilateral relations and create new business and tourism opportunities between the two global destinations", said Elena Sorlini, managing director and interim CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports.

Hainan aims to receive 1 million international overnight visitors in 2024, according to the provincial department of tourism, culture, radio, television and sport.

"The increase of overseas routes will attract more international tourists to Hainan, help to improve the internationalization level and promote the upgrading of Hainan's tourism industry," said a representative from the department.

"The routes are set to play a pivotal role in elevating the international visibility and reputation of Hainan. As more international tourists are exposed to the island's captivating scenery and rich culture, Hainan's global allure is poised to ascend, positioning it as a must-visit destination on the world stage," he said.

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