China’s HNA Group has continued the rapid expansion of its airline portfolio with the announcement of plans to create a new passenger carrier in Xi’an.
The new airline will be called Air Changan, reflecting the old name of Xi’an – the capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi province and an historic city on the ancient Silk Road. It has already received its Air Operator’s Certificate and is due to commence commercial flights in May 2016.
The launch actually marks a revival of the former Chang An Airlines, which first launched in 1992 and later merged with Hainan Airlines.
The new Air Changan will initially operate a fleet of five Boeing 737 aircraft from Xi’an’s Xianyang International Airport. Operating under the ‘9H’ flight code, it will operate domestic routes before expanding to international destinations, with a key focus on cities along the former Silk Road in Central Asia and beyond.
Air Changan will become the seventh Chinese carrier with an operating base in Xi’an, following China Eastern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, Joy Air and Shenzhen Airlines.
And the launch of the new carrier marks another step in the impressive expansion of HNA Group’s aviation portfolio. In recent years the Chinese conglomerate has set up new passenger airlines in Fuzhou, Urumqi, Shanghai and Nanning, and it recently unveiled plans to launch a new airline in Ningbo.
These add to HNA’s existing portfolio of established airlines, including Hainan Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Lucky Air, Capital Airlines and West Air.