Hainan Airlines has begun flying to Vancouver, its third route to Canada, with the launch last Friday of its service between Shenzhen and Vancouver via Tianjin.
The twice-weekly flights give both Shenzhen and Tianjin their first connections to Canada, with this also being Tianjin’s first route to North America.
There do appear to have been some changes to the deployment since the route was first announced back in January this year, however.
Most notably, Hainan Airlines has opted to fly its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft on the route, rather than its previously announced Airbus A330-300.
The good news is that this means the route now has more business class seats – 36 compared with the 32 on the A330-300. Hainan Airlines did recently launch a new cabin with a new business class seat product for its A330-300, comprising 24 seats, though this newer variant was not originally scheduled to fly the Vancouver route.
The bad news is that the B787-8 has a 2-2-2 layout compared with the A330-300’s 1-2-1 configuration, meaning window-seat passengers will have to climb over their neighbours to reach the aisle. Both aircraft offer fully flat seating, and the B787-8’s seats offer between 74 and 80 inches of pitch.
The addition of the twice-weekly service means Vancouver Airport (YVR) “now has the most Mainland Chinese carriers in North America,” according to Craig Richmond, president and CEO of Vancouver Airport Authority.
Notably, this includes the launch of China Eastern’s non-stop services between Nanjing and Vancouver, which it launched in January 2017. Meanwhile, China Southern began flying between Guangzhou and Mexico City via Vancouver in April last year, though this service was in addition to its existing non-stop flights to Vancouver from Guangzhou.
Another member of Hainan Airlines’ parent company, HNA Group, also recently began flying to Vancouver – Hong Kong Airlines. The carrier launched its non-stop service to Vancouver from Hong Kong, just across the border with Shenzhen, on June 30, 2017.
Hainan Airlines also flies non-stop between Beijing and Toronto and Calgary.