Despite coronavirus downturn in travel, China plans to launch new leisure airline

Jun 15, 2020

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Despite the coronavirus crisis and the devastating effect it’s had on the travel and aviation industries, China is set to launch a new airline. The predominantly leisure airline will service the popular holiday destination of Hainan.

Called Sanya International Airlines, the airline will fly primarily to and from the island. Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines has teamed with a number of partners, including the country’s largest online travel agency Trip.com and fellow Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines to launch the new airline.

There’s no timeframe for the launch of the airline, which still needs regulatory approval.

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When it does launch operations, Sanya International Airlines will be based out of Sanya International Airport (SYX), according to FlightGlobal. At this time, there is no information regarding the airline’s fleet or route network plans.

While airlines around the world have implemented unprecedented measures in order to make it through the coronavirus crisis, the launch of Sanya International Airlines has raised some eyebrows. While some airlines have been forced to completely suspend operations and others have been forced to lay off staff, the thought of expansion for a new airline comes at an interesting time.

Hainan is a popular holiday destination for Chinese tourists and is about 30 times the size of Hong Kong. Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to turn Hainan into the country’s largest free-trade zone, according to BBC. As part of those plans, the government has outlined a lower income tax rate for some in Hainan, as well as relaxing visa requirements for tourists and business travellers alike.

Earlier this year, China Eastern launched a regional Shanghai airline, OTT Airlines.

Featured photo by John Seaton Callahan/Getty Images.

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