Friday, September 15, 2017

Hainan Airlines touches down in Belgrade


Hainan Airlines has commenced operations between Beijing and Belgrade via Prague, becoming the first Chinese carrier to maintain services to Serbia in 25 years. Furthermore, the airline becomes the first to link the Chinese and Serbian capitals in seventeen years. Flight HU7937 arrived in Belgrade just after 09.00 CEST where it was greeted by the Serbian Prime Minister, Ana Brnabić, the Chinese Ambassador to Serbia, Li Manchang, the Serbian Minister for Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Zorana Mihajlović and the CEO of Air Serbia, Dane Kondić. On board the inaugural flight to Belgrade were 234 passengers including a number of high-ranking representatives from Hainan Airlines' parent company, the HNA Group, the Mayor of Beijing, Chen Jining, as well as a Chinese business delegation consisting of over twenty people.


Services between Beijing and Belgrade will run twice per week, each Monday and Friday, with the 292-seat Airbus A330-300 aircraft. Initially, flights will operate via Prague but are likely to be upgraded to nonstop operations from the 2018 summer season. Hainan has secured fifth freedom rights between Prague and Belgrade, allowing it to sell tickets on the sector. "With these rights in place, Hainan Airlines can offer round trip services between Beijing and Prague, Beijing and Belgrade, as well as Prague and Belgrade. This is the only fifth freedom route that Hainan Airlines is currently operating. These rights build a convenient air bridge for passengers in China, the Czech Republic and Serbia", the carrier told EX-YU Aviation News. It added, "Currently we plan to run two flights per week. We will adjust these plans based on market demands. We will evaluate the possibilities whether to increase frequency or operate nonstop before the summer season".

Belgrade Airport

Some 90% of bookings on the new route so far have been made by Chinese tourists, who can now visit Serbia visa free. However, Hainan is also targeting Serbian passengers, as well as business travellers. The number of Chinese tourists visiting Serbia increased 161% during the first half of the year to over 21.000. Chinese mainland travelers are a major driving force for global tourism and as the world's biggest spenders, they dispensed 261 billion dollars in 2016, accounting for nearly 21% of the world's tourist consumption. "Both Chinese tourists and Serbian passengers are equally important to us, we expect that this new route could enhance the exchange of visits between the two peoples. We hope more Serbian customers will recognise us, and we’d like to see more and more Serbian travellers come to China", Hainan said. Since January 1, Serbian nationals no longer need visas to enter China.


Hainan Airlines is considered to be one of China's best carriers and has been ranked as one of the top ten best airlines in the world. Hainan offers 32 seats in business class and a further 260 in economy on its flights between Beijing and Belgrade. Business class features a spacious cabin in a 1-2-1 seating layout with 180-degree adjustable lie-flat seats, Bose headsets and Bvlgari toiletry bags. Passengers in all classes have access to an on-demand entertainment system and a gourmet selection of Western and Oriental meals. The carrier is promoting its new service with an ongoing competition on its social media channels. Subsidiaries of Hainan's parent company, the HNA Group, which is involved in the aviation, real estate, financial services, tourism, logistics, and other industries, are currently bidding as part of a consortium for the 25-year concession of Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport.

     

121 comments:

  1. Congrats Belgrade and Hainan Airlines. Good luck with the new route.

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  2. It will be a nice sight today at Belgrade Airport. Hainan A333 will be parked at gate C5 and at the same time Air Serbia's A332 will be parked next to it at C3.

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  3. If Chinese tourists are arriving as part of packaged tours, what will they tour other than Belgrade? Are they going to visit other parts of Serbia or some other country as part of the trip?

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    1. I see organized groups in Novi Sad, so they will probably tour Novi Sad, Petrovaradin, Sremski Karlovci and eventually Fruska Gora? It is just a 1h drive from Belgrade via highway.

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    2. They have been promoting Subotica and Bačka Tvrdjava on the Hainan Weibo page.

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    3. Interesting, I thought they would bundle it with visit to other country, like Montenegro coast or Prague tour.

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    4. The Chinese hate the sun. No interest in beach holidays for them.

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    5. Don't know why you are laughing so much. It's a well known fact.

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    6. You obviously havent been to Hainan Island have you ?

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    7. Those going to Europe are not going to the beach. You will see one day when they start Zagreb that they will be going to communist memorials and maybe Plitvice, not Hvar island.

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    8. When they start Zagreb? You had 130.000 Chinese tourist in Croatia last year out of which 35.000 were in Zagreb.

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    9. Ugh... he meant when they start flying there, not when they start visiting the city. Maybe read a few times what people write before going on an offensive.

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    10. I don't know Chinese so I can't find any day-by-day tour schedule for Belgrade. Can someone find it and post it here? Thanks.

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  4. Very good news for aviation, tourism and passengers in Serbia.

    Eagle has landed! :)

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  5. Alen Šćuric PurgerSeptember 15, 2017 at 9:13 AM

    Huge. Very good for Belgrade. Congratulation.

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  6. Will they cater in BEG or have a crew change here?

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  7. Its strange that HU reduces so many destinations. Good they are increasing their utilisation of the A/C while in PRG.

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    1. It's good that out of all the cities in Europe they chose to fly to Belgrade.

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  8. Congratulations Belgrade!
    It is to be expected Hainan as 5 star airline to start flying directly to Serbian capital very soon!
    This is great news and bringing one more wide body plane on regular flight to BEG will contribute some other airlines to re-consider flying to Belgrade.

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  9. "On board the inaugural flight to Belgrade were 210 passengers including a..."

    WOW that's an amazing load!

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  10. Amazing numbers for inaugural flight from Beijing. It means 80% of passengers from PEK were heading to BEG.

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    1. And almost all tourists.

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    2. and almost none from PEK to PRG!

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    3. I think it was done on purpose so that the first flight comes full since there is a,lot of media attention

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    4. Sure. Or you you just have the need to belittle others. You were probably saying a month ago that this was a "wet dream".

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    5. So basically the a/c had more pax coming to Belgrade than Prague?

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    6. Yes, that is correct but the plane has catastrophic loads on the way back which shows the reality. Belgrade is simply not a touristic destination nor it will be anytime soon. This is a political route.

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    7. You have no clue what the return loads are and the 200+ Chinese who arrived today beg to differ whather it is a tourist destination or not. Get a life.

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    8. Yes every single route from Serbia is political.

      How some of you trolls don't get tired. For months you were claiming that this route won't happen, that tickets won't go on sale etc etc (same as for the New York flights) and then you can't wait a minute before starting a new round of vitriol. Take a break.

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    9. Hainan Airlines is a privately owned airline. If this was a "political route" then a deal would have been made with Air China.

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    10. as far as i know it is not privately owned. it is owned by a number of state run funds with very complex ownership structure.

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    11. First of all I heard a third of today's pax were not paying/invited. Then i wonder how many others got special discounted tickets today.

      Second of all I suppose not all 210 were flying from PEK as fifth freedom means pax are also flying PRG BEG.

      Still congrats to BEG airport!

      Does anyone know what amount of incentives over what time period are given to HU? Is same also offered to every other airline (publicly)?

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    12. Just wow at your post. Where did you hear that? Amazing how jelous some people are.

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    13. Hainan is getting the same incentives like Transavia or Atlasjet did. No special treatment here. HNA has enough money to make this route work.

      Also don't forget that PEK-BEG is of strategic importance for the expansion of Chinese influence in the region.
      It's funny how this route is launched a day after the EU said Serbia won't be a member before 2025. :D

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  11. Oh it landed. If I were to trust some resident 'experts' here this was a "wet dream", "never gonna happen" etc.

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    1. Don't forget "why can't I book this flight online"

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    2. Haha, maybe cause it was full :D

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    3. Even first flight (and it is still summer season) is far from full: 71%

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    4. Here comes the jelous troll. You realize this flight goes via Prague meaning seats are blocked for the Prague sector? No? Didn't think so. You are more concerned with whose is bigger.

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    5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  12. Good luck! Great job!

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  13. Photo of YU-ARA and Hainan next to each other.

    http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpost.php?p=142352905&postcount=7696

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    1. And the video...

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=4QP22ogdBhk

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    2. Any view from the platform?

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  14. Hope they go nonstop from next summer

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  15. Fantasticno je videti dva a330 jedan pored drugog!

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  16. Apparently AS CEO Dane Kondic welcomed them as well today together with PM etc.

    Hope there will be some cooperation between them two? Maybe when (if) they go nonstop.

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    Replies
    1. Yep he was there

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    2. For now they only have an interline. I hope they evolve this into a codeshare.

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    3. I hope they evolve into 49% owner of ASL

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  17. Congrats to BEG. Let's roll further.

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  18. Next thing they will get is the airport concession :)

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  19. Great work guys. Looking forward to see the next long haul route :)

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    1. Hopefully Toronto :)

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    2. I think so too just because there is an airline there that could make the route work.

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  20. I must admit I am very positively surprised that there are so many passengers on the first flight. 5 busses waiting in front of BEG terminal to take the Chinese to their hotels.

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    1. those buses exactly show you it is not real demand, but the group organized for this inaugural flight. later they will go to skadralija, visit petrovaradin fortress and whatnot. we will have to wait until end of the next summer season to see how it will perform.

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    2. No, that shows that they are tour groups who purchased tickets through a tour operator such as HNA Tourism which is one of the largest. Busses will be there again on Monday to wait for new tourists coming on the flight. Go to any city in the world and you will see bus loads of Chinese tourists organized by their tour operators. So no, the group is not organized for the inaugural flight, it is organized for EVERY Hainan flight which will be coming. But you seem to know it all.

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  21. Interesting that 90% of bookings are coming from tourists. Anyway a great start and I hope this route goes nonstop soon :)

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  22. No photo next to Air Serbia's A330? It must be at the airport right now.

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    1. Nadamo se da cemo uskoro videti i treci sirokotrupac u isto vreme. Posle cetvrti prema Africi.

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  23. Lef's see how other airlines like Aeroflot which carried most Chinese passengers to Belgrade will respond now.

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    1. They won't have to respond. Hainan is mostly bringing-in new pax.

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    2. Exactly. New tourists and a completely new market.

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    3. Plus, most Chinese in Serbia are from Shanghai. Hainan is not competitive with two stops.

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  24. Nice video. Thumbs up for catching the landing

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  25. Anybody noticed the Boeing 737-400F landing behind?

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    1. Yes it operates regularly for DHL.

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    2. Daily flight from Budapest

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  26. It would be beneficial if they got rid of the Prague stop and kept 2 weekly flights next summer. But anyway it is good to see they are already making plans for next year.

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    1. With a Dreamliner from next summer would be nice :)

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    2. I hope it stays as A333 as the configuration is much more comfortable.

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  27. I personally think that the Prague stop is a smart move to start with. It shows that they are a bit cautious and seeing as they are practically starting during the winter season (if you exclude one month and a half) it's a smart move.

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  28. Last year we got JFK, this year PEK, next year...?

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  29. Last September, BEG welcomed 519.376 (+6%) passengers. This year we have a lot more airlines like Atlasjet, Transavia, Wizz Air's second A320, more flights by Lot, Hainan...
    Could we maybe see 10% more passengers? That means that numbers could be close to 580.000?

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  30. I've been looking tmat their A330 product and it is very impressive. Miles ahead of Etihad (in a330)

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    1. Their A330 C class seats are the same as the ones in Etihad's B787 and A380. But you are right, way ahead of what they offer in the A330.

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    2. JU's C class product in A330 is also ahead of Etihad's A330 product.

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    3. Dude, everyone these days is ahead of Etihad and their A330. Not to mention that EY itself is falling apart.

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    4. Lufthansa's A350 business class is the same as Etihad's A330.

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    5. All of them are ahead of Emirates' B777 which still has a 2-3-2 configuration which is crazy for a premium airline like thenselves.

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  31. Well done guys. I think LJU will be next with service to China but let's wait and see.

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  32. What are the fares like BEG-PEK return with Hainan?

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    1. Depends on the dates. Around 550 euros in economy.

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    2. Meanwhile their prices between Belgrade and Prague match Air Serbia's. This is a great alternative to the ATR.

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  33. Great news for BEG.

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  34. Interesting that this is Hainan's only fifth freedom route.

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  35. C'mon you all, you are really poor with pictures today, not a single pic from the platfrom, really??

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    1. They obviously didn't let anyone on the platform. You can't just walk out.

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    2. Yeah, but what about the workers or the tower? This was poorly prepared.

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    3. Lol it was poorly prepared because you didn't get a photo from a particular angle? #dramaqueen

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  36. Bravo BEG, Hainan is very good company.

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  37. Winter time is almost identical in Beijing and Serbia so it might be challenging to maintain fair load factors unless the Serbian government starts subsidies or begin massive Chinese projects.

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    1. You do realize that tour groups are being booked on these flights. They are not going to Belgrade to sunbathe or enjoy the sun, they are going for 5 days visits of monasteries, fortresses etc. Its not dependent on the weather.

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    2. Winter in Serbia is identical to the one in Beijing? I could swear we have less smog. ;)

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  38. 18. 12. 2014
    'Doći će ljudi sa istoka, žuti ljudi, i zavladaće svetom. Oni će piti vodu sa srpske reke Morave" - ispričao je predsednik Tomislav Nikolić

    :D

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  39. Nice to see another regular widebody in BEG.

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  40. They should really think about refreshing that livery though

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  41. Here are a few photos my son end me have managed to take this morning (in not the best light conditions) - https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B5BQ5KlupgSRYjB4SXVfQzNjdTQ?usp=sharing.

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    1. Thank you Dejan, you're saving the day.

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    2. Thanks Dejan. They are great :)

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    3. Thank you, great pictures! If Belgrade gets new widebody flight next year we hope you will be there!

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  42. PM Brnabic said several times today that flights will go nonstop next summer season.

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    1. She said she hopes flights will go nonstop, not that they will.

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    2. I'd rather have them 3-4 per week via Prague than direct.

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  43. Thank you :) Otherwise, after taking off from Rwy 12 it made unusually late right turn reaching almost Smederevo (see attached Take-off.jpg uploaded in shared folder in the meantime). This gave me oportunity to see it with naked eye after passing River Danube somewhere close to Novi Sad even 13 minutes after departure and when had already achieved cruising altitude (32.000 ft - 9754 m). Even contrails started to appear! Really crazy, I have never expirienced antything similar. Interestingly even more, at the time it was flying over Belgrade, EK B773 enroute ZAG also was also flying around, so at one point I could see them both in almost the same direction.

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  44. I just saw on the picture that there was an Aviolet charter flight to TLV. Good to see that they also managed to take a share of the market.

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  45. Thanks for the video ex-Yu

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  46. For those interested in seeing Hainan's A330-300 product

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ezw3NnxCAA

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