Hainan Airlines is seeking approval from the Chinese Government to launch international flights to points in Asia, Australia and Europe. The Chinese short-haul airline also plans to open discussions with Airbus and Boeing on acquiring a fleet of widebodies.
"We expect approval in principle from the Civil Aviation Administration of China by the end of this year," says Jimmy Guo, Hainan's deputy general manager. He reveals that the airline is looking to acquire three 767-300ERs or A330-200s, or possibly A300-600Rs, though the latter type has insufficient range to serve Europe.
Guo says the carrier's strategy hinges on the potential for developing Hainan island as a major tourist destination.
Hainan Airlines had secured approval to launch international flights in 1997 and was earmarked to receive three 767-300ERs previously allocated to Shanghai Airlines. The plans were dropped due to the Asian financial crisis.
Meanwhile, the airline has taken delivery of the first of 19 Fairchild Aerospace 328JETs on firm order. Deliveries are due to be completed by mid-2001. The 32-seat aircraft will initially be used to replace nine Metros, which are being traded back to Fairchild as part of the deal.
Hainan expects to decide on exercising its additional 20 328JET options by the end of next year, which could be converted to orders for larger 428JETs or 728JETs, says Guo. He adds that some of the 328JET commitments could also be taken as corporate Envoy 3s for use by the company's executive jet charter business. Hainan's fleet includes 17 Boeing 737s (a mix of -300s, -400s and -800s), with two more 737-800s due next year, and several business jets.
Guo also reveals that Hainan is interested in getting involved in the aircraft maintenance business. "We are in discussions with several maintenance organisations, including Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering and Israel Aircraft Industries, about setting up a joint venture to cater for Boeing 737 maintenance requirements, or maybe in future the 328JET," he says.
Source: Flight International