On Tuesday 27 February 2007, during a reception held in Geneva, Mr. Wang Jian, Vice-President and executive director of the Hainan Airlines Group, announced that Hainan Airlines would be starting to fly "as soon as possible" between Beijing and Geneva. The connection would operate three times a week via Budapest.
As Mr. Wang Jian pointed out, Hainan Airlines, which started operations in 1993, has become the fourth largest airline of the People's Republic of China, with 124 aircraft and 28,000 employees. It flies to more than 90 domestic and international destinations. Hainan Airlines recently established its first two ports of call in Europe: Brussels and Budapest. "Geneva is an international city with a long history", said M. Jian, highlighting the fact that Geneva is the headquarters of many international organisations. "China's active participation in those organisations has created a substantial flow of official and business travellers between Beijing and Geneva. Geneva, with its very rich cultural environment and its magnificent landscapes, has also become an essential destination for Chinese tourists wanting to get to know Europe". He also added that the future connection would open up a “new Silk Road” above the continent of Europe and Asia "as a contribution to the political, economic and cultural exchanges between China and Switzerland".
Mr. François Longchamp, State Counsellor and Chairman of the Management Board of Geneva International Airport, said that relations between the two countries went back a long way; in 1950, Switzerland was one of the very first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. "Geneva is very proud to be the first Swiss city to be served by a Chinese airline".