An international airline company will be created jointly by China Eastern Airlines and its partners to serve the construction of the Hainan free trade port, according to a strategic cooperation framework agreement signed on Saturday.

The joint venture, named Sanya International Airlines, will be controlled by China Eastern Airlines, with its stake owners including Hainan Province Transport Investment Holding Co Ltd, Sanya Development Holdings Ltd, Juneyao Airlines and Trip.com Group.

The agreement is among a slew of key projects reached to accelerate the development of the southern island province into an international trade hub and a free trade port in years to come.

Chinese authorities unveiled a master plan on June 1, vowing to build Hainan into a globally influential high-level free trade port by the middle of the century, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Aviation is Hainan’s most important transport solution due to the island province’s unique geographical conditions and location, and its rapid development needs a convenient and well-connected aviation network.

China Eastern is one of the first batch of carriers to launch business in Hainan since 1998. Currently, the carrier is operating flights in three airports in the province and transporting up to 3 million passenger trips annually.

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