Hainan Airlines plane
Hainan Airlines plane iStock

Israel's Tourism Ministry and Chinese Hainan Airlines announced on Sunday the signing of a marketing agreement to open a new route between Shanghai and Tel Aviv.

This step makes Hainan Airlines the first airline to operate regular flights between the economic capital of China and Israel.

In the last year, there has been a significant increase in the number of tourists and business people visiting Israel from China, noted the Tourism Ministry.

The new route is expected to increase these numbers further, while providing good news to the Israeli consumer who can now enjoy a new destination in the Far East. The entry of Hainan Airlines into Israel’s skies has brought a significant reduction in prices, and it is anticipated that this will happen on the new route as well.

As part of the agreement, beginning September 12, Hainan Airlines will operate three direct weekly flights from Shanghai Pudong International Airport, on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, using their new Dreamliner planes (787-900). The flights will depart from Ben Gurion airport at 13:55 local time and land in Shanghai at 05:30 the following day. The flights will leave Shanghai at 01:25, landing in Ben Gurion at 08:30 the same day.

Hainan Airlines has also decided to add another flight to the current four weekly flights on the Tel Aviv-Beijing route due to increased demand, beginning September.

According to statistics provided by the Tourism Ministry, the entry of Hainan Airlines into the Israeli market in April 2016 changed the face of incoming tourism from China, leading to a significant drop in airfares.

In its first year of operations in Israel, Hainan Airlines flew 76,649 passengers on its direct flights into Israel from Beijing. Today, the company accounts for 63% of the direct flights between China and Israel, with Chinese passengers accounting for about 70% of all flights and Israelis 30%. In the period January – April 2017, 35,800 tourist entries from China were recorded, 116% increase on the same period last year.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin welcomed the agreement saying, “I congratulate Hainan Airlines on opening a new route from Shanghai, another direct route that will bring record numbers of tourists from China. We set as our goal to encourage and assist airlines to open new direct routes from destinations that hold potential for incoming tourism to Israel and I am pleased that Hainan Airlines expresses a vote of confidence in us and continues its cooperation with us in its operations in Israel.”

Israel and China have been expanding their economic ties in recent years. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited China this part March and met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two announced a comprehensive innovation partnership between the countries.

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