China Eastern to make Hainan home base for new airline
CHINA Eastern has joined with the country's biggest online travel agency Trip
CHINA Eastern has joined with the country's biggest online travel agency Trip.com to create a new airline based on the economic development of Hainan, the nation's only island province, reports the BBC.
Some have questioned the timing of the launch which comes as the airline industry struggles to survive.
Government-backed China Eastern will own 51 per cent, to be called Sanya International Airlines. Other backers include Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines and a unit of Trip.com. No timeframe was given for the launch of the new airline, which will need regulatory approval.
The partners are hoping to capitalise on Hainan's growing significance in China. The island is about 30 times the size of Hong Kong and is a popular holiday destination for Chinese tourists.
President Xi Jinping also wants to turn the island into the nation's largest free-trade zone. Beijing has outlined plans to lower the income tax rate on Hainan for selected individuals and companies to 15 per cent, and relax visa requirements for tourists and business travellers.
'The airline's official launch will likely depend on the continued recovery of Chinese domestic traffic and the Covid-19 situation in both China and regionally,' said Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor of London's FlightGlobal magazine.
'It takes time to build an airline, however, so a great deal of work needs to take place in terms of equipment and personnel before the airline takes to the air,' he said.