Chinese carrier Tianjin Airlines will become the latest of the country’s airlines to launch long-haul flights when it takes delivery of at least three Airbus A330-200s from the European manufacturer in the coming months. These aircraft will be used to debut flights into Europe and North America with London expected to be the first destination to be served by the widebodied equipment.
The HNA Group subsidiary has been allocated up to 20 A330-200s to support growth from Tianjin as an alternative to the capacity constrained Beijing Capital International Airport. The city in northern coastal China and one of the five national central cities of China and in terms of urban population is the fourth largest in China, after Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou. However, it is its location just 143km southeast of China’s capital with efficient high-speed rail access that adds to its appeal.
Hainan Airlines has already identified Tianjin’s Binhai International Airport as an option for routing flights from other points in mainland China to North America and has previously outlined plans to provide links to both New York and Vancouver via the facility. However, it appears it will be its sister carrier that will be the first to introduce regular long-haul flights from the expanding airport.
Tianjin Airlines was awarded licences by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) last year to introduce flights between Tianjin and both London and Vancouver in conjunction with Chongqing as well as services to Moscow from both Chinese cities. It now appears that with its first two A330s currently under assembly that is making final preparations for its long-haul launch. The first is due for delivery next month.
As revealed by our Airline Route blog this week, Tianjin Airlines will introduce its twice weekly link between Tianjin and London, via Chongqing from June 25, 2016. The carrier will serve Gatwick Airport in the UK capital with departures on Wednesdays and Saturdays. It is also planning to introduce a four times weekly link to Vancouver from this summer routing Chongqing – Tianjin – Vancouver once it receives its second and third A330s. The flights to Moscow are also earmarked for launch from late June 2016 and will utilise Sheremetyevo Airport in the Russian capital.
Tianjin Airlines will become the fourth Chinese carrier flying to London, following Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines. Fellow HNA Group carrier, Hainan Airlines has also operated a charter programme to Birmingham and will launch scheduled flights this summer, with the introduction of a scheduled Beijing-Manchester route from June 10, 2016.
The young carrier is little known outside of its home market and has just seven years of operation under its current brand. It was established in 2004 to bring together the regional activities of Hainan Airlines and the smaller China Xinhua Airlines, Chang An Airlines and Shanxi Airlines and received its operating certificate from CAAC in 2007. It initially launched as Grand China Express Air, at the time the largest regional carrier in China, but was rebranded as Tianjin Airlines in June 2009.