On 25 October 2017, Hainan Airlines flight HU7921 departed on time from Shanghai Pudong Airport and, after a little more than 11 hours, made a smooth landing before 07:00 at Brussels Airport, marking a successful maiden flight between the two cities.
Hainan opened a route between Beijing and Brussels in 2006. The Shanghai route is the second non-stop service between Belgium and mainland China.
Three return flights will be operated weekly on the route, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. Business class is equipped with 180-degree lie-flat massage chairs in a 6-abreast (2-2-2) configuration, BOSE noise-cancelling headphones and Bulgari washbags to ensure that passengers enjoy a quiet journey within their own private space. The economy section has the usual 9-abreast (3-3-3) rather narrow configuration.
In 2017 Hainan Airlines is placed number 3 on the “Global Airline Safety Ranking” by JACDEC and it has received, for the 7th year in a row, the Skytrax’s 5-Star Airline Award. It is also entitled as “World’s Top Ten Airlines” by Skytrax for the first time.
The inauguration ceremony
Since the inaugural flight arrived at Brussels early in the morning, the ceremony was held later, before the departure of the return flight to Shanghai.
Leon Verhallen of Brussels Airport was the Master of Ceremony. He welcomed the authorities led by Charles Michel, Prime Minister of Belgium and Ambassador Qu Xing of the People’s Republic of China. He then introduced the speakers: Brussels Airport CEO Arnaud Feist, Hainan Airlines Vice President Huo Wei, Deputy Prime Minister Kris Peeters and Ambassador Qu Xing, who all insisted on the economic ties between Belgium and China and on tourism to both countries.
“In recent years, the Chinese metropolis has become an attractive destination for investments thanks to a steadily improving market position. Business leaders from both countries are reacting very positively to this new connection,” said Arnaud Feist.
“Since we started with our route from Beijing to Brussels in 2006, hundreds of thousands of people have been able to enjoy the universally-praised service that Hainan Airlines offers between Belgium and China,” explained Huo Wei. “Business and leisure trips between Belgium and China have already grown enormously in recent years, and our new offer of direct flights between Shanghai and Brussels will only accelerate this expansion.”
The speeches were followed by the ribbon cut and the traditional cake cut, and the exchange of gifts between Brussels Airport (the Tintin rocket to the Moon) and Hainan Airlines (a model plane in Hainan livery).
But in addition to the official ceremony, the ordinary passengers were also treated with Chinese foods and little gifts at gate B05.
And the Aviation24.be team was allowed a short visit of the aircraft, a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner registered B-7880.
The aircraft departed on time under a water cannon salute by the airport fire brigade.
HU7291 PVG 01:25 – 07:30 BRU 789 1-3-5–
HU7922 BRU 12:30 – 05:30+1 PVG 789 1-3-5–
HU7291 PVG 01:25 – 06:30 BRU 789 1-3-5–
HU7922 BRU 11:25 – 05:30+1 PVG 789 1-3-5–
Text & pictures © Ivan Coninx, André Orban