Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines is launching its first service to Spain on March 22, 2018, with non-stop twice-weekly flights between Shenzhen and Madrid.
Flights will operate on Thursday and Sunday when flying from Shenzhen to Madrid, a journey that takes 14 hours and 15 minutes, and on Monday and Friday in the opposite direction, which is slightly shorter at 13 hours 5 minutes.
The new route’s schedule is as follows (all times local):
Hainan Airlines is flying its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft on the route. Unfortunately, these do not feature the airline’s newest Dreamliner cabins, which have started being available on certain retrofitted B787-9 aircraft since May 10, 2017.
The B787-8 notably has a business class cabin laid out in a 2-2-2 set up with all seats facing directly forward, as opposed to the new B787-9’s 1-2-1 layout with seats positioned in a herringbone formation. But while the newer aircraft arguably have superior seats, both aircraft do have fully flat seats in their business class cabins. Economy class is laid out 3-3-3.
Hainan Airlines has increasingly been launching routes out of its hub in Shenzhen, located in China’s southern Guangdong province just across the border from Hong Kong.
The rise of mainland Chinese carriers increasingly has placed pressure on Hong Kong’s flagship airline, Cathay Pacific, with the former – Hainan Airlines included – typically offering cheaper fares.
A return business class fare on Hainan Airlines’ upcoming Madrid service starts at RMB15,826 (US$2,469), for example. A similar ticket on Cathay Pacific’s own five-times-weekly service between Hong Kong and Madrid, which is served by its B777-300ER aircraft, costs notably more starting at HK$34,450 (US$4,406).
Hainan Airlines is also set to launch direct flights from Shenzhen to Brussels starting March 20 this year, whilst Cathay Pacific will be launching its own services to the Belgian capital from Hong Kong from March 25 onwards.