A new intercontinental air route between Shenzhen and Rome, Italy, will open Thursday, bringing the total number of international routes operating out of Shenzhen to 50.
This will be the third intercontinental flight to Rome operated by Hainan Airlines following routes from Haikou in Hainan Province and Xi’an in Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.
It will be the 50th international route linking Shenzhen with the world and the 11th European destination from Shenzhen.
The flight, HU437, will operate every Thursday and Sunday. It is scheduled to leave Shenzhen at 1:30 a.m. and arrive in the Italian capital at 8:10 a.m. The return flight, HU438, leaves Rome at 11:25 a.m. and arrives in Shenzhen at 5:20 a.m. the following day.
This year is the 15th anniversary of the establishment of a comprehensive strategic relationship between China and Italy.
Hainan Airlines has opened a dozen intercontinental flights out of Shenzhen in the past two years and more than 100 international routes linking China with other countries under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Zheng Hongbo, chairman with Shenzhen Airport Group, said the 50th international route marked the successful completion of a phase of Shenzhen’s aviation development.
In 1991, when the Shenzhen airport was put into operation, its passenger turnover reached 1 million in a year, which at that time was a miracle in China’s civil aviation development. After the opening of T3 in 2013, passenger turnover reached 30 million in a year, but the turnover of international passengers only made up about 5 percent of the total.
A great change took place in 2016 after the 13th National Five-Year Program upgraded the Shenzhen airport from a cargo route airport into an international air hub. China Southern Airlines opened an intercontinental route from Shenzhen to Sydney in January 2016. Air China opened flights to Los Angeles and Frankfurt, and Xiamen Airlines opened a flight to Seattle the same year. In 2017, Hainan Airlines signed a strategic agreement with Shenzhen and opened more than 10 routes in two years.
Between 2016 and 2018, a dozen flights were put into service annually. In the first half of this year, nine international routes have been put into service.
According to Chen Jinzu, president of Shenzhen Airport Group, the airport is trying to ensure that international passengers make up 10 percent of total travelers by the end of 2020. By 2025, the number of overseas destinations from the Shenzhen airport will have reached 100. By 2030, the passenger turnover will have reached 80 million and international passenger turnover will make up 25 percent of the total.