Hainan Airlines Is Launching Nonstop Flights To Mexico

Filed Under: Hainan

Update: In 2020 Hainan Airlines discontinued flights to Mexico.

Hainan Airlines has just formally announced that they’ll be launching nonstop flights between Beijing and Mexico as of March 21, 2018. The flight will operate 3x weekly from Beijing to Mexico City via Tijuana, with the following schedule, per @airlineroute:

HU7925 Beijing to Tijuana departing 5:10PM arriving 2:25PM
HU7925 Tijuana to Mexico City departing 4:25PM arriving 9:30PM

HU7926 Mexico City to Tijuana departing 11:30PM arriving 12:45AM (+1 day)
HU7926 Tijuana to Beijing departing 3:45AM arriving 8:05AM (+1 day)

Hainan Airlines intends to operate the route using a Boeing 787-8, featuring 36 business class seats and 177 economy seats. The flight should be bookable in the coming days.

Hainan’s 787-8 business class

There are a few things about this route that are especially noteworthy. First of all, this is the first nonstop flight from China to Latin America on a Chinese airline. There are already some Chinese airlines flying to Latin America (China Southern flies from Guangzhou to Vancouver to Mexico City, Air China flies from Beijing to Montreal to Havana, and Air China flies from Beijing to Madrid to Sao Paulo), though this is the first nonstop link between the two countries on a Chinese airline.

The only other Asian airline operating direct to Mexico is ANA, which began that daily flight in early 2017.

It’s also interesting how little lead time Hainan is providing on this new route, as they’re launching it in a matter of weeks. This is quite common for Chinese carriers as they expand rapidly, and don’t have issues operating routes at a loss in the short term.

Hainan is making the stop in Tijuana because the 787-8 couldn’t operate the flight nonstop in both directions. That’s because Mexico City Airport is at a high altitude, which impacts the takeoff performance of the plane. The direct distance between Beijing and Mexico City is 7,740 miles, and the stop in Tijuana adds only 68 miles to the direct distance of the journey.

While the stop in Tijuana is primarily intended as a refueling stop, I believe Hainan Airlines will have pick-up rights there, so you should be able to fly between Tijuana and Beijing on Hainan. Thanks to the Cross Border Xpress, it’s quite easy to get between San Diego and Tijuana Airport, so this flight could potentially be interesting for those living in the San Diego area.

I’m curious to see how Hainan does on this route. An airliners.net user notes that Mexico is pretty transparent in publishing passenger numbers, and in the 226 flights that China Southern has operated between Mexico City and Guangzhou (via Vancouver, with pick-up rights there) since launching the route, there have only been a total of 8,877 passengers on the sector from Mexico City to Vancouver, which translates to an average of 39 passengers per flight. That’s not exactly an impressive load factor for a 787.

How do you think Hainan will do on their new nonstop route to Mexico?

  1. That schedule looks very inconvenient for people travelling from MEX to PEK – why do they need three hours on the ground in Tijuana in the middle of the night?

  2. Should work well for the increased Chinese business travelers now establishing new trade with Mexico to displace the US. No need to have visa approval to transit US immigration.

  3. What (if any) are the award possibility implications of this new route?

    My particular interest would be East Coast US to Asia. I’m assuming no way to get an award connecting in Mexico City? How about just the MEX -> PEK part?

  4. for people don’t know, Hainan Airlines and its parent HNA was in some hot water right now. There are a lot of rumors on who is the true owner of HNA. The head of the company has been restrained from travel until recently. I sense there is a settlement in place to eventually merge Hainan with one of big 3. I think they are trying to set as much footprints as possible before this to gain some leverage.

  5. @Anon, if you use the cross border xpress (walk from San Diego), there is no need to go through Mexican immigration. It saves tons of time to fly to Beijing from the greater San Diego area.

  6. I am very happy to see a flight like this start. I flew MEX-TIJ on the 777 that was continuing to PVG about 18 months ago and the flight was probably 60-70% Chinese Mexicans or Chinese residents in Mexico. I got off in TIJ and then waiting to get on were pretty much nothing but Chinese pax. Believe it or not TIJ (and Baja in general) and MEX have a large number of Chinese people who are residents or even citizens of Mexico and have been there for generations.

    Now, I would love to see if Copa would opt for TIJ instead of SAN. Exciting times for SAN/TIJ area…I miss living there!

  7. Alaska airlines used to have routings via MEX to AMS from LAX, so maybe if the airlines work well as partners

  8. Good news! But…the China Southern flight to Vancouver and then to CAN is IMPOSSIBLE to book here in México. There is no published phone number, no office address, it doesn’t appear in GF searches, it doesn’t appear on CS website as an option, there has been no publicity in the newspapers or TV or radio, nor on the internet here, a consolidator that I use sometimes in SFO doesn’t show it as bookable…so the low passenger numbers are totally understandable. On my last CS flight (LAX-CAN-SGN), it was shown in the airline’s route map in the magazine, though none of the FA’s nor the Purser had ever heard that it existed. I have wanted/tried to book it for months, with no luck at all. As Lu (above) says, there seems to exist the possibility of something “fishy” with these routes/flights.

    If anyone knows how to book either CS or Hainan, I’m all ears.


  9. @CF Frost is right.
    For Americans, we take for granted getting Visas.
    But for Asians needing to go to Mexico, Central America or South America, can not fly thru the USA without a USA Visa.

  10. Hainan Airlines’ parent company HNA group is in big financial trouble now, don’t get surprised if you here the news of Hainan’s bankruptcy in the near future.

  11. AeroMexico used to make technical stops on its routes from MEX to PEK and NRT in TIJ. Then it upgraded from 777s to 787s and eliminated the TIJ stops.

    NH runs its route to MEX without TIJ stops.

    So it’s possible to run 787s even to the high and hot MEX airport without stopping in TIJ. The MEX airport serves a prosperous first world city with a metro area of up to 20MM people. TIJ is a couple million people. So you’d really rather serve MEX directly. It doesn’t seem possible to serve both cities well on the same flight.

    So I have to wonder what Hainan has in mind. Maybe they’re trying to monopolize the route with China’s one-airline-per-route policy.

  12. @richard bost “But for Asians needing to go to Mexico, Central America or South America”

    The USA visa situation (or Canada’s) is no picnic for Mexicans and South Americans that just want to fly to Asia either. Transit visas and sterile transit don’t exist in the USA so you have to petition for a full US visa and wait months just to spend a couple hours in an airport.

    As a result AM and NH routinely earn $500 premiums on tickets between MEX and Asia. All to avoid dealing with the backwards third world bureaucracy of the USA.

  13. I Know this may seem random but could this flight be used in a RTW record? Continuing from TIJ to BOG on Avianca and connecting to Madrid and so forth?

  14. @CF Frost Wrong. Travelers require US transit visa when landing in any of the port entries, unless the country is already under the visa waiver agreement.

  15. In February 2020, there are no longer any direct flights connecting Mexico to China.
    Aeromexico cancelled their Tijuana-Shanghai route in June 2019 and Hainan just canned their Tijuana-Beijing route.

    Hainan cites low demand from mexicans as one of the culprits for this decision. I believe this is partially because of the hassles of mexicans in getting a tourist visa. China only allows mexicans to get the visa in their consulate in Mexico City which is only open on weekdays. As far as I know, mexicans can’t get the visa in San Diego. For a mexican living in Mexico City, getting the visa is a bit cumbersome but doable even though departing Tijuana at 4 am is annoyingly inconvenient. But the idea that someone living in Tijuana has to book an expensive 6000 mxn flight to Mexico City just to get a visa on a weekday or hire a visa service for 2000 mxn is probably the main reason why Mexico-China routes inevitably fail whereas Mexico City-Tokyo and Mexico City-Seoul are profitable. Neither Japan nor South Korea requests tourist visas for mexicans.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Reminder: OMAAT comments are changing soon. Register here to save your space.