NEW YORK – Hainan Airlines, a unit of HNA Group and mainland China’s only Skytrax Five-Star airline, this week begins two new routes between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and the Chinese cities of Chengdu and Chongqing. In conjunction with the route launches, Hainan Airline’s parent-company, HNA Group, is supporting a series of New York City events including Lincoln Center’s Fall Gala, the China Institute’s Blue Cloud Gala and the Asia Society’s Game Changer Awards.
Services to Chongqing commence on October 21 and to Chengdu on October 27 from JFK’s Terminal 4. Each route will operate twice weekly on Hainan Airline’s fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. With a capacity for over 60,000 passengers per year, it is the only non-stop service offered between New York City and China’s rapidly growing Sichuan province. Chongqing to New York will be Hainan Airlines’ longest flight route – nearly 7573 miles.
Sun Jianfeng, Hainan Airlines President said, “We’re excited to be offering the only non-stop flights between the U.S. East Coast and the major cities of Chengdu and Chongqing. These new services represent the 13th and 14th non-stop trans-Pacific routes, following our West Coast launch earlier in the year. The opening of the new route is expected to significantly enhance exchanges and collaborations concerning culture, the economy, and politics between the two countries and to further improve both Chengdu and Chongqing’s status as key global economic centers.”
HNA Group’s focus on the New York routes is a sign of confidence in the relationship between the U.S. and China as a primary travel and tourism partner. According to statistics from the National Travel and Tourism Office, 2016 saw almost 3,000,000 Chinese tourists enter the USA (an increase of 466% since 2009), with more than 800,000 visitors to New York alone. The total Travel and Tourism Exports for the year was more than $32 billion.
Commenting on HNA’s tourism strategy, Adam Tan, CEO of HNA Group said: “We are continuing our expansion in the tourism and travel sectors globally, as we strive to build closer connections for world travelers. Through a range of strategic travel investments – from gategroup aircraft hospitality suppliers, to MRO specialists SR Technics, to the recent acquisition of a 25% share in Hilton Hotels, HNA Group remains committed to building the tourism sector across the globe. The opportunity for us to connect New York with the fastest growing Chinese regional centers of Chengdu and Chongqing is expected to lead to additional trade opportunities throughout China and the US.”
In conjunction with the new route launches, HNA Group is sponsoring a week of local activities in support of its commitment to New York City, including hosting a major corporate event and concert at the Alice Tully Hall of Lincoln Center for partners and the travel sector. The concert will showcase the extraordinary talents of U.S. and Chinese artists, including the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and renowned violinist Lu Siqing.
HNA will also be sponsoring a range of high-profile annual gala events over the course of the coming weeks as it showcases its commitment to New York City. HNA will be the title sponsor of the annual Lincoln Center Fall Gala (October 23), the Asia Game Changer Diplomacy Champion Partner at the Asia Society Asia Game Changer Awards (November 1), and the presenting sponsor of the China Institute Blue Cloud Gala (November 2).
Each event is the partner organization’s biggest of the year and highlights HNA’s growing presence in the U.S. At the Asia Game Changer Awards, in particular, HNA will recognize the important role of Chengdu’s Giant Pandas, which have been an integral symbol of bilateral diplomacy between China and the U.S. over the past 45 years.
Access to Chinese Regional Centers
Connecting the US to China’s growing regional centers is a core element of HNA Group’s strategy, supporting increased capacity and expanding cultural exchanges between the two nations.
Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, is widely recognized for its Giant Panda Breeding Center. But this traditional home of Sichuanese cooking city is fast-becoming the latest stop on the global food trail, as Chengdu is Asia’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy. Chengdu also strikes the perfect balance of traditional Chinese customs and modern cultural elements, from the many traditional tea houses to the 150 museums it boasts.
Chongqing is a major commercial center of 30 million people, renowned for its distinctive spicy cuisine, and its busy port along the Yangtze River. Chongqing is the home of the UNESCO World Heritage site of The Dazu Rock Carvings and Chinese religious sculptures and carvings that date back to the 7th Century. As the provisional capital of China from 1937 – 1945, Chongqing also has a rich wartime history.