China’s Hainan Airlines has begun operating a route from the Chinese city of Haikou, the capital of the province of Hainan, to Abu Dhabi.

The twice weekly flights land at the new Terminal A at Abu Dhabi International airport.

On Tuesdays and Saturdays, HU763 departs from Haikou at 2.30am and lands in Abu Dhabi on the same day at 7.25am.

HU764 meanwhile departs from Abu Dhabi at 5.40pm and lands back in Haikou at 5am the following day.

It is reportedly the first time a Chinese carrier is operating scheduled flights to Abu Dhabi in a decade.

Managing Director and Interim CEO of Abu Dhabi Airports, Elena Sorlini, said, “We are pleased to welcome Hainan Airlines to Abu Dhabi. It marks an important milestone for Abu Dhabi Airports and the broader UAE-China relationship. The launch of this new airline boosts our connectivity, and the route will further enhance bilateral relations and create new business and tourism opportunities between the two global destinations.”

The general manager of Abu Dhabi Office Hainan Airlines, Ma Wang Yi Jin, added, “Hainan Airlines is honored to be part of this important milestone, coinciding with the Chinese Lunar Year of the Dragon. We are committed to providing exceptional service and convenience for passengers traveling between Abu Dhabi and Haikou.”

UAE’s national carrier Etihad, which also recently moved its entire operational base to Terminal A, has been strengthening its routes to China. In December, it signed a strategic cooperation Memorandum of Understanding with China Eastern Airlines. The two carriers plan to implement a broad collaboration including an expanded codeshare, reciprocal loyalty programmes, cargo transport, maintenance, repair and overhaul, ground handling, catering, lounge access, staff training, and several sustainability initiatives.

In March last year, Etihad also signed a similar cooperation agreement with SkyTeam member China Southern Airlines. Etihad moved its services to Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX), which is also China Southern Airlines’ hub.