SANYA, July 12 (Xinhua) -- A direct air route was launched on Thursday between Sanya, a famous tourist destination in south China's Hainan Province, and London.
The first flight departed from Sanya Phoenix International Airport at 1:00 p.m. Thursday Beijing time, and is scheduled to arrive at London Heathrow Airport at 6:45 p.m. local time.
China Southern Airlines will operate the air service every Thursday and Sunday using an Airbus A330-200, with four first-class seats, 24 business class seats, and 187 economy class seats.
Outbound flights will depart from Sanya at 1:15 p.m. Beijing time and arrive in London at 6:45 p.m. local time. Return flights will leave London at 10:10 p.m. local time and arrive in Sanya at 4:00 p.m. the next day.
This is the first direct flight from Hainan to Europe in China's civil aviation industry. It is expected to promote the development of Hainan free trade zone and free trade port, said Wang Changshun, chairman of the airline.
The island has become a favorite tropical resort for overseas tourists in recent years, with the number of foreign tourists exceeding 1.1 million in 2017, up nearly 50 percent year on year, according to the local tourism bureau.
As of 2017, Hainan has 57 international air routes and is expected to add 16 more this year.