Russia’s Azur Air To Provide Direct Service Between Krasnodar & China’s Hainan Island

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Tourism & Vietnam Free Trade Ties Encourage Nine Hour Flights To Sanya

Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis

Russia’s regional Azur Air will launch a direct international route between Krasnodar and the Chinese resort of Sanya, commencing late October, with weekly flights operating on Sundays, the press service of the Krasnodar airport announced on Monday.

“For the first time, direct flights with China will be launched from Krasnodar International Airport. Azur Air will start operating direct flights to the Island of Hainan Island (the city of Sanya). Flights will be operated weekly on Sundays – from October 27, 2019 to March 22, 2020.” The nine hour flight will be serviced by Boeing 767-300 aircraft with a capacity of 336 passengers. The weekly, yet seasonal service will provide an alternative winter sun destination for Russian’s based in Krasnodar, where temperatures can reach into the -20’s. Krasnodar itself is the Provincial capital of Krasnodar Krai, in the far south-west of Russia, on the border with the Black Sea.

krasnodar-sanya

Krasnodar Via Sanya To Vietnam – Opportunities In Free Trade Agriculture

Sanya is a well developed Chinese tourist city, however the introduction of a direct service step is designed to ensure not just the influx of Russian tourists into the province, but also businesspeople. Beijing has just announced the creation of a pilot free trade zone on Hainan that is set to service free trade into and with Vietnam. China has a Free Trade Agreement with Vietnam via its FTA with ASEAN, while Russian businesses can also take advantage of the Eurasian Economic Union FTA with Vietnam, signed off three years ago. Vietnam has become so popular with export processing businesses that it is running out of capacity – Hainan’s Free Trade Zone is partially a reaction to this. Krasnodar is one of Russia’s most developed cities, with the highest GDP rankings in Southern Russia. It was named the best city for business in Russia several times in a row by Forbes Magazine. Major industries there are agricultural and foods, accounting for nearly 50% of the total GDP, and as such it is a good fit for food processing connections between Krasnodar, Hainan and Vietnam.

It also fits in with the Hainanese authorities’ plans to turn Hainan into a large tourist and innovation center with a diversified and developed economy, including science and industry. Russian tourists however will need to get used to Chinese tourists from across the country in Hainan, which is not necessarily as serene as other South-East Asian destinations. In 2018, over 76 million Chinese and foreign tourists visited the island, of which 255.800 were Russian. On a personal note, I would suggest there are rather nicer and less crowded destinations for Russians to visit in South-East Asia than Hainan. However from a business perspective, the developing Free Trade Zone potential and relatively easy access to Vietnam via nearby Guangzhou or Hong Kong could make this an interesting route for businesses involved in the fruit and related food processing trade between Russia and Asia.

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