Hainan Airlines’ new twice weekly flights between Changsha and Sydney has touched down in the NSW capital.
Flight HU 7997, operated by Airbus A330-200 B-6116, landed in Sydney a little after 0600 local time on Tuesday, after a roughly 10-hour journey from Changsha, located in the southern Chinese province of Hunan.
The aircraft, configured with 36 business and 186 economy seats for a total of 222 seats, was on the ground for about two hours before operating the reciprocal HU 7998 to Changsha.
The new service builds on Hainan’s seasonal offering between Sydney and Xian that operated from December 2015 to March 2016 and will resume from September 17 as a twice weekly service. The airline also operated Hangzhou-Shenzhen-Sydney flights in 2011.
Hainan Airlines vice president of marketing Hou Wei said Australia was an important destination for the more-than-two-decade-old carrier.
“Hainan Airlines has identified Australia as a strategic choice in advancing our growth and development as a global aviation player, and Sydney is Australia’s largest city, economic and tourism hub,” Hou said in a statement.
“We hope that Hainan Airlines will become the choice of an increasing number of travellers around the world, so we are able to contribute more to the promotion of economic and cultural exchanges between China and Australia.”
The two new services follow Hainan Airlines’ parent company HNA taking a 19.2 per cent equity stake in Virgin Australia as part of a new commercial alliance.
That proposed tie-up was slated to result in the two airline groups codesharing on each others’ flights, as well as cooperating on frequent flyer programs, lounge access and the promotion of tourism and business travel.
Virgin also planned to operate flights to Beijing and Hong Kong from a yet-to-be-disclosed Australian city as part of the partnership.