Service crew

Hainan Airlines to launch Beijing

Hainan Airlines has applied for approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China to start nonstop flights between Beijing and Belgrade. Based on demand, the service would begin in July or August, after receiving the necessary clearances, although July 16 has been named as the target launch date. The airline also received the requested landing slots at Belgrade airport. Chinese carriers are beginning to restore operations in Europe after several months of coronavirus restrictions. Most scheduled flights, including the Beijing – Belgrade service, will only operate once a week due to continued caps and covid restrictions in China. Hainan Airlines’ Belgrade service will depart from Tianjin in northern China, head to Beijing, after which it will be bound for the Serbian capital.

The Chinese carrier plans to operate flights from Beijing to Belgrade early every Saturday morning, arriving in the Serbian capital at 08:00 the same day, before starting its return journey at 15:00. If the flights go as planned, it will mark the return of Hainan Airlines to Serbia after four years. The carrier started services from Beijing to Belgrade via Prague in September 2017 with the 292-seat Airbus A330-300. The airline held fifth freedom rights to the Prague – Belgrade – Prague sectors, allowing it to also sell tickets between the two European cities. However, the flights were suspended at the end of 2018.

Since then, Hainan Airlines has operated several charter services to Belgrade, mainly for Chinese workers based in Serbia. Before the 2019 pandemic, Beijing was the second busiest unserved route out of Belgrade with 52,123 passengers flying indirectly between the two capitals. Air Serbia recently said it would soon make a decision on leasing a second A330 to launch new operations to Asia and North America, with flights to Beijing or Shanghai under consideration. The majority of passengers flying between Serbia and China currently do so via Qatar Airways, KLM and Iran’s Mahan Air. In July 2021, Serbia and China finalized a medium-term cooperation agreement until 2025, which provides for the establishment of non-stop flights between the two countries in the second half of this year.