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Hainan Launches Direct Flight Between Budapest and Chongqing

Int’l Relations

Bence Gaál

Budapest Airport and Hainan Airlines, the largest civilian-run and majority state-owned air transport company, celebrated the establishment of a direct flight connection between the Hungarian capital and Chongqing, China, with Hainan’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner planes flying twice a week between the cities.

From left: Duan Jielong, Péter Szijjártó, Kam Jandu and Min Zhang.

The celebration was held at the Terminal 1 Airport Event Center. Budapest Airport chief commercial officer Kam Jandu highlighted the developments the airport has made to accommodate Chinese tourists, such as the introduction of signs in Chinese, as well as the accommodation of Chinese payment systems such as UnionPay, Alipay, and WeChat.

The number of passengers on Chinese routes have been increasing at a rate of 18% year-on-year, he said.  

The connection between Budapest and Chongqing also marks the return of Hainan Airlines to Budapest, after the airline left in 2011, just before the collapse of Malév Hungarian Airlines, Hungary’s state-owned national carrier, the following year.

“Hainan Airlines is the third airline to launch direct flights between the two countries, raising the number of flights to 13, the most in the Central Eastern European region. This is an outstanding achievement, as five years ago there were no direct routes to China,” Jandu said.

Min Zhang, general manager for Hainan Airlines in Hungary, praised relations between the two countries, adding that an increasing number of people are coming to Hungary from China.

New Step

Duan Jielong, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Hungary, hailed the re-entry of Hainan to Hungary as a “new step in relations between the countries”, strengthening the friendship between the two nations. He also noted that the positive relations were underpinned by Hungary’s membership in China’s so-called “Belt and Road Initiative” for binging good to Europe.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó called the cooperation between the two countries a success story, noting that there are “no open questions in the Hungarian-Chinese cooperation”, adding that the government’s decisions in the relationship were made to serve Hungarian interests.

“Thanks to this, high-value investments have come to Hungary, trade values are breaking records, and Hungary was the first EU member state to join China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative.’ The results are good: By the end of November last year, 262,000 Chinese tourists had traveled to Hungary and had spent 429,000 overnight stays; both statistics are from the 11th month, yet they are still higher than the entire 2018 traffic.”

The minister added that China is the largest source of tourists around the globe, with 150 million Chinese traveling abroad every year, accounting for some 20% of the money spent by tourists globally. He added that Hungary has created 14 Visa centers in China, where accepted visa applications are issued within 48 hours.

“None of the capitals in the CEE region have such good connections with China. Some 31 million people live in Chongqing and its region; it is home to 27 major automotive companies and produces 10% of China’s automotive production. Chongqing has become the engine of economic development in western China, so the direct relationship will boost the Hungarian economy,” Szijjártó added.

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