The first flight of the new service, Hainan Airlines HU7937, which took off from Beijing Capital International Airport, landed successfully at Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport at 9:20 am on September 15, 2017 local time after 13 hours in the air. The celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony for the maiden flight was attended by Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Construction Zorana Mihajlović, Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Li Manchang, Hainan Airlines Vice President Quan Dong and executives at several Chinese firms with operations in Serbia as well as a group of important local industry leaders and dignitaries.
Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said in her speech that the level of cooperation between China and Serbia had grown significantly, with the total value of projects between the two countries currently in progress exceeding US$6 billion, while, at the same time, bilateral trade has been increasing significantly. Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Li Manchang said new developments emerge every day between the two countries and the resumption of direct air service between the two capitals is a further testament to the growing strength of the relationship. In alignment with China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, Hainan Airlines plans to continue expanding its presence outside of its home market, especially across the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, most of which have already established close ties with China, said Quan Dong.
In recent years, Hainan Airlines has made rapid gains in its international reach, with the proportion of revenue attributable to the international segment growing year by year. In the second half of this year, in addition to the Beijing–Prague–Belgrade and Shanghai–Tel Aviv services which are already in operation, Hainan Airlines is scheduled to also launch Shanghai–Brussels, Shenzhen–Brisbane, Chongqing–New York, Chengdu–New York, Shenzhen–Brisbane and Shenzhen-Cairns services as well as several other intercontinental routes, further expanding the carrier’s international network around the globe.