Hainan Airlines announced on Monday a direct flight from Shanghai to Tel Aviv for the first time.
The new route, which starts operation in September, adds to the Beijing route, which began a year ago, and plans a fifth weekly flight, also in September.
Beginning September 12, Hainan will offer three direct weekly flights from Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, on 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. According to Hainan Airlines, the ticket prices for a return journey will begin from $669 in economy class and from $2,749 in business class.
A statement from Israel’s Tourism Ministry, which helped arrange for the new routes, said that Hainan’s entry into the Israeli market in April 2016 led to a significant drop in airfares. In its first year of operations in Israel, Hainan flew 76,649 passengers on its direct flights into Israel from Beijing. Today, the company accounts for 63 percent of the direct flights between China and Israel, with Chinese passengers accounting for about 70 percent of all flights and Israelis 30 percent. In the period January – April 2017, 35,800 tourist entries from China were recorded, a 116 percent increase on the same period last year.
In other air travel news, the German carrier Lufthansa announced on Monday more flights to and from Israel starting in October. The airline will offer 13 weekly flights to Munich and 23 weekly flights to Frankfurt – in total 36 weekly flights, compared to the current 31.
Lufthansa Israel general manager Ofer Kisch hailed the unprecedented number of flights to Israel, saying that the decision came in response to demand from Israeli travelers.