El Al Airlines will soon have competition on the Tel Aviv-Beijing route — from China’s Hainan Airlines.
Hainan has officially filed a request to launch Tel Aviv-Beijing flights in September, Globes reported Monday.
The privately-owned carrier, the fourth largest in China, plans in the initial stage to run three weekly flights between Ben Gurion Airport and Beijing, probably using A330 passenger jets. The flights are scheduled for days on which El Al does not operate Tel Aviv-Beijing flights.
Hainan Airlines, whose representatives visited Israel last month, plans to launch a fourth weekly flight at a later stage.
According to the Israel Airports Authority, 54,000 passengers travelled on the Tel Aviv-Beijing route in 2014, up 5% from 2013. The potential for growth is huge, with few Chinese tourists currently coming to Israel. In 2013, according to the Ministry of Tourism, 34,000 Chinese tourists visited Israel, up 36.2% from 2013.