The first Chinese commercial flight took off on Saturday from Hainan’s Meilan International Airport for Yongxing in the South China Sea following a major upgrade of the island’s airport.
The island is the seat of the municipal government of Sansha, China’s southernmost city, overseeing China’s territory in the South China Sea. Previously transportation of cargo and personnel has mainly relied on shipping.
CCTV news reporter Han Bin was able to gain special access to the first civilian flight to Yongxing Island, after the airport’s renovation, for his special series of reports “Return to Sansha.” The airport’s renovation has increased its capacity to take larger planes, allowing it to accommodate Boeing 737s which can hold up to 200 passengers. While there have been civilian flights previously, it is hoped that the airport’s renovations, along with the larger aircrafts, will usher in a new era of commercial air travel.
The trip is flown by Hainan Airlines, which has previously operated commercial flights to Yongshu Island in the South China Sea, drawing international attention. It is hoped that this flight will herald in a new era of air travel to the Yongxing Island and it won’t be long before flying there becomes a routine for family members wishing to visit relatives.
Military wife Ren Jiaojiao
Han traveled with a military wife visiting her husband stationed on the island. She expressed her hopes that traveling to the islands in the South China Sea would now be easier.
Our reporter also talked to the mayor of Sansha, and the party chief of Hainan Province who were both on board the maiden flight.
Officials voiced their hopes that the flights would also bring a better quality of life to the people living on the island, especially during this festive time of the year.
“Sansha has made rapid progress not only in infrastructure and management, but also in law enforcement, environmental protection and economic exploration,” said Luo Baoming, Party Secretary of Hainan Province.
In his report Han Bin discovered that the launch of the civil aviation business is one of the city’s many efforts to improve the quality of life there, and the ambition of the airport is to serve as a crucial hub in the South China Sea, especially for the flow of people and goods in the region.