Hainan Province Airlines was founded in October 1989, and changed its name to Hainan Airlines four years later, when it became China’s first joint-stock air-transport enterprise.
Commercial flights started in early May 1993, executive-jet operations being added in April 1995, thanks to a Bombardier Learjet 55 that joined the existing fleet.
Since 1993, in addition to its main hub Haikou, Hainan Airlines has established seven secondary hubs in Beijing, Dalian, Guangzhou, Lanzhou, Shenzhen, Taiyuan, Urumqi, Xi’an, as well as an extensive network across China, with flights all over Asia, Europe, America and Africa.
In 1998, Hainan Airlines became the first Chinese carrier to own shares in an airport, by purchasing a 25% stake in Haikou Meilan International Airport.
Hainan Airlines Group (HNA Group) formed in 2000, becoming the main company controlling Hainan Airlines. This parent company also controlled Chang’an Airlines, China Xinhua Airlines and Shanxi Airlines.
Three years later, Chang’an Airlines became part of Hainan Airlines, thus turning into the fourth largest airline in China at that time.
By March 2007, Hainan Airlines has grown to over 9.000 employees.
Hainan Airlines started to serve the Beijing – Seattle route in early June 2008. Seattle was Hainan Airlines’ first North American destination, with Chicago, Newark and Honolulu being the next ones planned.
Service to Honolulu was expected to start in early 2010.
From 2005 to 2012, Hainan Airlines made some serious fleet additions and improvements, by ordering more than a dozen aircraft for passenger carriage (mainly Airbus A330-200s), as well as cargo division (represented by Boeing 747-400F).
In 2012, part of Hainan Airlines’ future plans was setting up another cargo division operating freighter aircraft, as well as investing in ACT Airlines Cargo, a Turkish carrier.
A review made in the first month of 2013 regarding the status of their fleet reveals the fact that their aircraft have an average age of 5.7 years. Consisting in more than 110 planes, their fleet carry passengers and cargo all over the world.
In July 2013, Hainan Airlines took delivery of its first B787-8 Dreamliner, operated the inaugural scheduled flight between Beijing – Chicago in November 2013.
Starting June 2014, Hainan Airlines introduced four-times-weekly 787-9 service between Beijing and Boston, the first direct flight between Boston and China.
In March 2015, HNA Group, the parent company of Hainan Airlines, announced its intention to acquire 30 Boeing 787-9 aircraft, all to join the Hainan Airlines fleet by 2021.
In June 2016, Hainan Airlines took delivery of its first B787-9 aircraft, with the plan to deploy it on a new route from Beijing to Las Vegas beginning in September. With 10 787-8 Dreamliners already in service, Hainan Airlines became the first Chinese carrier to operate both versions of the Boeing Dreamliner and the largest Boeing 787 Dreamliner operator in China.
From May 2017, new 787-9 cabin layout was introduced on select international routes. The new Boeing 787-9 cabin is equipped with a total of 292 seats in three classes: 226 seats with a 32-inch pitch in Economy Class, 36 seats with a 36-inch pitch in Hainan Plus, and 30 Herringbone seats in Business Class.
In June 2017, Hainan Airlines was named one of the top ten airlines by SKYTRAX. Hainan Airlines, rated as a 5-star airline by Skytrax for the past seven years, has also been ranked third on the JACDEC (Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre) 2016 list of the World’s Safest Airlines, the best ever ranking achieved by a Chinese carrier.
In 2018, Hainan Airlines continued its long-haul expansion launching new routes, such as Changsha-London, Shenzhen-Brussels, Shenzhen-Madrid, and Shenzhen-Vienna.
In June 2019, at the Skytrax World Airline Awards, Hainan Airlines ranked #7 in the World’s Top 10 Airlines and won in the following additional categories: Best Airline in China, Best Airline Staff in China, Best Cabin Crew in China, Best Business Class in China, Best Business Class Lounge in China, Best Airline Cabin Cleanliness in China, and World’s Best Business Class Amenities.
No deadly incidents involving Hainan Airlines aircraft have been recorded so far.