Chen Feng, chairman of HNA Group. Kevin Wang / China Dail
Hainan province is set to be served by more than 100 international air routes, with Hainan Airlines taking much of the traffic to the popular tourist destination, as the Chinese government develops the island as an experimental free-trade zone, according to Chen Feng, chairman of HNA Group, the airline¡¯s holding company.
Chen made the remarks while talking to journalists after Hainan Airlines, China¡¯s largest private airline by both market share and fleet size, was awarded five-star status by airlines rating agency Skytrax for the eighth consecutive year on Tuesday in London.
Chen said the airline¡¯s geographical base on Hainan Island was key to its success.
¡°With its roots in China, Hainan Airlines is committed to becoming one of the world¡¯s top airlines as well as one of China¡¯s iconic brands,¡± he said.
Right from the outset, Chen wanted to make Hainan Airlines stand out as a service-oriented company. On its first ever flight, he even pushed the drinks trolley himself.
¡°We have created a world-class aviation brand that strives for excellence in service in line with a razor-sharp focus on flight safety in combination with on-time arrivals and departures, the Beauty of the Orient brand image, innovation, the passion we put into everything we do, team collaboration, and a passenger-centric approach to service,¡± Chen added.
The Skytrax awards are viewed as the Oscars of the aviation industry and its top-10 airlines selection is based on a poll of 24.45 million travelers from more than 100 countries.
Having entered Skytrax¡¯s top 10 for the first time last year, Hainan moved up to eighth this year, becoming the first Chinese mainland-based airline to be in the top 10 two years running.
In addition to its five-star status, Hainan Airlines was honored for having the best business class amenities, being the best Chinese airline, and having the best airline staff in China.
¡°Hainan Airlines is one of the world¡¯s fastest-growing airlines, and the designations the carrier received demonstrate the quality of the airline¡¯s operations,¡± said Skytrax chairman Edward Plaisted. ¡°In addition to being at the vanguard of aviation services, Hainan Airlines regularly receives positive feedback from global travelers as the brand continues to enhance its position in the market.¡±
Chen, the airline¡¯s co-founder, recently became group chairman after the death of former chairman Wang Jian, who died aged 57 after falling during a business trip to France on July 3.
Since the airline¡¯s establishment in 1993, HNA Group has grown from a local transport company to a multinational, involved in many industries, including real estate, tourism and financial services.
Earlier this year, HNA Group was reportedly having cash-flow problems due to aggressive overseas acquisitions. With no prior experience to copy, Chen admitted the company¡¯s development has been a learning process, and said there are bound to be challenges.
¡°It is inevitable we will encounter some temporary setbacks at this pace of rapid growth, and I believe it is the path that most Chinese companies will have to come across in the process of going global,¡± Chen said. ¡°But I am confident we will be able to overcome such difficulties supported by the achievements we have done for the last 25 years.¡±