The Chinese airline has been serving the Beijing-Berlin route since SEP2008, with a short interruption caused by the Corona pandemic. Now it has increased the frequency from 3/7 to 4/7. On the route, the carrier operates an A330-200, which can carry 20+ tons per flight, depending on passenger luggage.
Aletta von Massenbach, CEO of airport operator, Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH (BER), congratulated customer, Hainan Airlines (IATA: HU), after the new flight had just landed at BER Airport, marking the 15th anniversary of the air services linking both capital cities. Literally, the executive said, “The long-term success shows, the demand for tourism and business travel on long-haul routes between the two cities is very stable. Hainan Airlines’ decision to upscale the flights allows the city partnership of Berlin and Beijing to be filled even better with life through personal encounters.”
The airline's frequency increase between the two national capitals is welcome news not only for travelers, but also for the air cargo industry. This is confirmed by Nouri Neller, MD Germany of general sales agent, Kales, which markets the aircraft's cargo compartments. “The Berlin-Beijing sector is highly attractive for the industry, especially since Hainan offers numerous feeder flights ex Beijing to domestic Chinese destinations,” says the manager. These include, for instance, scheduled air traffic to Harbin (HRB) in the northeast of China, Shenzhen (SZX) and Guangzhou (CAN) at the Pacific rim, or Kunming Changshui (KMG) in the southwest of the country. “This means we can offer local exporters air transportation to virtually every major destination in China,” enthuses Mr. Neller.
Close to 2019 levels
This network aspect is also emphasized by Min Zhang, General Manager of Hainan Airlines’ Berlin office. “Hainan Airlines is the bridge between the two capitals and also conveniently connects Berlin via Beijing with many destinations in China and in Asia, such as Tokyo or Bangkok. We are pleased to once again offer the market a range of flights between our countries that is close to the level of the pre-Corona year 2019.”
At that time, HU was even operating five weekly flights between Berlin and Beijing. A schedule frequency that the BER managers hope to achieve again in the near future, provided both passenger and cargo demand continues to grow.
Three key accounts
In particular, the carrier’s increase in frequencies from 3/7 to 4/7 is an important message for three major industrial players. First place is taken by pharma producer, Bayer, that relies heavily on air freight to distribute its many Healthcare brands. According to Torsten Jüling, Cargo Chief at BER Airport, the company is the city's largest air cargo contributor. Secondly, Siemens and its suppliers are important shippers when it comes to electronic components and electrical products, with most of the items being manufactured in Berlin. Thirdly, the BER management believes that Tesla will become a major cargo shipper in the near future, estimates Mr. Jüling. The carmaker runs large plants both in Shanghai and in the vicinity of Berlin, which will lead to a flow of components and tools between the two production sites. And last but not least, general cargo also traditionally accounts for a considerable share of air freight consignment flown from Berlin to the global markets, including China.
HU benefits from route advantages
The fact that cargo is a growth factor in Berlin is illustrated by this official figure: At BER, tonnage grew by 7% in the first half of 2023, while all other German airports reported declining volumes.
Hainan Airlines serves the BER-PEK route every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. The A330-200 takes around 9 hours on the eastbound flight. In the opposite direction, the flying time is 10 hours, a prolongation caused by the time difference.
The nonstop flights are operated across Russian airspace as China has not sanctioned the Putin regime following Russia’s assault on Ukraine. This routing leads to time and cost advantages that HU enjoys compared to its European or Japanese peers. However, the management does not comment on financial details.
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