The service will be direct flights between Dublin and Beijing, while on the remaining two days, there will be a short stopover in Edinburgh.

An Tánaiste Simon Coveney, TD, and representatives from Dublin Airport, Hainan Airlines, Beijing Airport and Tourism Ireland attended the launch announcement at the Irish Embassy in Beijing last month.

Hainan Airlines is part of the Chinese-based global HNA Group, which also owns the Dublin-based aircraft leasing business Avolon. Hainan, which has seven existing routes between China and western Europe, will operate its new Irish service with an Airbus A330-300 aircraft.

Securing this historic new route to Beijing was a collective effort that involved a number of Irish State agencies and Government departments working in harmony, according to Dublin Airport managing director Vincent Harrison, who said it “would not have been possible without the efforts of the Irish Embassy in China and officials at the departments of Foreign Affairs, Tourism, Transport and Sport, and Justice; our close colleagues in Tourism Ireland; and executives in IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Bord Bia”.

Trade between Ireland and China will see a boost

Two-way trade between Ireland and China is currently estimated to be worth more than €14.9bn per year. The new direct route will help Irish firms and exporters with operations and clients in China, as well as encourage China’s financial services and technology companies to invest in Ireland.

“This new route will provide direct connectivity to Beijing and convenient connections to other key Chinese cities via Hainan’s hub in the Chinese capital,” Harrison said.

Irish tourism and hospitality is also set to benefit from the new initiative as Tourism Ireland estimates that about 70,000 Chinese visitors came to the island of Ireland last year, up from 60,000 visitors in 2016.

The planned flight times (local time) for the direct Beijing-Dublin route are as follows:

  • The Beijing-Dublin flights will operate on Thursdays and Sundays. Flights will depart Beijing at 1.30am, arriving in Dublin at 6am
  • The Dublin-Beijing service will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Flights will depart Dublin Airport at 11.10am, arriving in Beijing at 5am the following day

The planned flight times (local time) for the non-direct Beijing-Edinburgh-Dublin service are:

  • The Beijing-Edinburgh-Dublin service will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Flights will depart Beijing at 1.30am, arriving in Dublin at 9.10am via Edinburgh
  • The Dublin-Edinburgh-Beijing service will operate on Thursdays and Sundays. Flights will depart Dublin at 8am, arriving in Beijing via Edinburgh at 5am the following day

A major achievement for the Irish economy

Coveney commented on the launch of the new route: “This first ever direct route to mainland China and the first Irish destination in Hainan Airlines’ international network is a major achievement, which will prove transformational to the bilateral relationship between China and Ireland.”

Harrison added: “This is a hugely significant announcement for the Irish economy. Hainan’s new Dublin-Beijing route links not just our two capital cities, but also our two countries. It is great news for tourism and trade, and this improved connectivity will create new jobs throughout Ireland.”

Hainan Airlines chair Bao Qifa said: “By continuously expanding and improving our international network, Hainan Airlines is dedicated to bringing more convenience to people’s life [sic]. This opening of the first non-stop service from Beijing to Dublin will provide new facilities to stimulate the development of Sino-Irish relations.”

Ellen Tannam

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