In what was probably one of the most important aviation events of the last decade, the first direct flight from Dublin to Beijing took off on its inaugural flight to the Chinese capital. The potential tourism and economic opportunities of this new Hainan Airlines service are vast and will present new markets for many Irish companies.
It has taken the Dublin Airport marketing team 10 years of dedicated work and skillful negotiations to convince the airline, which is the fourth largest in China, to operate the Irish flights.
Welcoming the new Dublin to Beijing service, Vincent Harrison, Managing Director, Dublin Airport, said it was a historic day for the airport. “We are delighted to welcome Hainan Airlines to Dublin Airport and to Ireland. We have worked really hard to bring this direct route to Ireland and today is the result of many years of dialogue. I would like to thank a wide range of other bodies such as Irish Embassy in China, our colleagues at Tourism Ireland and other key stakeholders such as IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Bord Bia, all of whom helped to get us to the launch here today.
“Trade between Ireland and China is hugely important for our economy and it is currently estimated to be worth more than €14.9 billion per year. The new direct route will greatly facilitate Irish firms and exporters with operations and clients in China, as well as China’s financial services and technology companies investing in Ireland. Ireland is also home to more than 5,000 Chinese students attending Irish educational institutions. This new direct service makes travelling between the capital cities of Ireland and China much easier and I have no doubt it will be popular for both business and leisure travellers. We will work closely with Hainan Airlines to market the new route.”
Bao Quifa, Chairman, Hainan Airlines, said: “We are delighted to launch this first ever direct route between Dublin and Beijing and we are very proud that Hainan Airlines will play a central role in forging greater friendship and co-operation between our two countries. We look forward to welcoming many Irish and Chinese guests onboard our 5-star Skytrax service.”
Last year 120,000 passengers travelled between Ireland and mainland China. With about a quarter of those people per year travelling between Dublin and Beijing. Before the inaugural flight Ireland was the largest travel market in Europe for Chinese traffic that did not have a non-stop flight.
Hainan Airlines carried almost 72 million passengers to 110 destinations last year on a fleet of 300 aircraft. It is part of the Chinese-based global HNA Group, which also owns the Dublin-based aircraft leasing business Avolon.
The airline was established in 1993 in Hainan Province, which is the largest special economic zone in China. Since then, Hainan Airlines has established bases in 12 Chinese cities including Beijing, Xi’an, Guangzhou, Dalian, Shenzhen and Chongqing. Hainan’s route network comprises destinations in China and elsewhere in Asia and extends to Europe, North America and the South Pacific. Prior to the Dublin launch the airline had seven existing routes between China and western Europe.
The flight times for the new Dublin-Beijing route are as follows:
The direct Beijing-Dublin flights will operate on Thursdays and Sundays. Flights will depart Beijing at 01.30, arriving in Dublin at 06.00. The direct Dublin-Beijing service will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays and will depart Dublin Airport at 11.10, arriving in Beijing at 05.00 the following day.
The Beijing-Edinburgh-Dublin service will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Flights will depart Beijing at 01.30, arriving in Dublin at 09.10 via Edinburgh. The Dublin-Edinburgh-Beijing service will operate on Thursdays and Sundays, departing at 08.00 and arriving in Beijing via Edinburgh at 05.00 the following day.
Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive, Tourism Ireland, said: “The new Hainan Airlines flight from Beijing to Dublin is excellent news for Irish tourism. As an island destination, we know the importance of direct, non-stop flights cannot be overstated; there’s a proven direct correlation between access and growth in visitor numbers, so this new flight will be a major game-changer in growing visitor numbers from China. In 2017, we welcomed an estimated 70,000 Chinese visitors to the island of Ireland; Tourism Ireland aims to grow Chinese visitor numbers to 175,000 per year, by 2025 (+150% on 2017). We look forward to working closely with Hainan Airlines, Dublin Airport Authority and other tourism interests to maximise the promotion of this new service.”