- Shenzhen Airlines has launched direct flights between Shenzhen and Barcelona, providing a link between China's tech hub and Spain's art and architecture scene.
- The airline will operate the route twice weekly with a plan to expand in the future, offering a total of over 10 international and inter-regional direct routes from Shenzhen.
- Shenzhen Airlines' fleet of A330-300s allows for increased passenger capacity and helps support the growth of Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport.
China's Shenzhen Airlines launched direct flights between Shenzhen and Barcelona on Monday. The route links China's tech hub with the northeast coast of Spain, known for its art and architecture. The flight is the second European route that the carrier operates. It comes as both Shenzhen and Barcelona are reportedly celebrating the second anniversary of establishing friendly ties.
According to data from Flightradar24.com, Shenzhen Airlines flight 9065 (ZH9065) departed from Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport (SZX) at 12:19 on Monday. The Airbus A330-300 aircraft, registered as B-1017, took off from runway 15 and continued southeast over Qianhai Bay before turning east over Shenzhen. At nearly 7,000 feet, the aircraft turned north to intercept its flight path to Barcelona. Once past the Dalang Residential District, the plane was headed northwest and reached its initial cruising altitude of 34,000 feet at approximately 01:15.
Flying over western Mongolia, the aircraft had climbed to 36,000 feet and was traveling at around 515 mph. A few hours later, B-1017 reached a cruising altitude of 38,000 feet and continued toward Spain. Within the last five hours of the flight, the plane flew at its final altitude of 39,000 feet and arrived at Josep Tarradellas Barcelona–El Prat Airport just before 08:00 on Monday.
The return flight, ZH9066, is set to push back from its gate at 11:30, with takeoff scheduled at 11:40, according to FlightAware. Similar to the Barcelona-bound journey, the flight is estimated to be around 13 hours and 30 minutes, with landing at SZX scheduled for 06:50 on Tuesday.
According to Xinhua, Shenzhen Airlines is expected to operate the route twice weekly on Mondays and Fridays. Next year, the carrier plans to expand the weekly frequencies. On February 7th, the Star Alliance member will schedule a third flight on Wednesdays with the A330-300, according to AeroRoutes. With the Barcelona flights, the airline offers a total of 12 international and inter-regional direct routes from Shenzhen.
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2nd route to Europe
Earlier this year, Shenzhen Airlines resumed service to London after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The flight reportedly operates five times weekly. The flights to Barcelona mark the airline's second European route in operation.
Shenzhen Airlines also formerly operated flights from Shenzhen to Amsterdam, according to Shenzhen Daily, but current flight data suggests the route is no longer in operation.
Increased passenger capacity
Shenzhen Airlines' fleet of A330-300s only consists of six jets, and it is the airline's only widebody and long-haul aircraft, considering the carrier operates a network of primarily domestic flights. The widebody jets accommodate a total of 309 passengers. Business class features 18 flatbeds, while 291 seats are in economy.
Despite the small fleet, the planes are necessary for the airline's operation. Without them, the carrier could not offer long-haul routes such as to Barcelona or London.
Not only do the A330s help Shenzhen Airlines with increased passenger numbers, but also its home airport. According to Shenzhen Daily, SZX officials hope to reach a passenger turnover of 45 million trips in 2023, about 90% of the pre-pandemic levels. The airport also aims to see 50% of 2019's international passengers this year.