Adam Tan, the CEO of HNA Group, has been awarded the Commander of the Order of the Crown by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as the launch of a new air route is set to further strengthen Belgian-Chinese relationship.

The Secretary-General of the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dirk Achten, conferred the honour of Commander of the Order of the Crown upon Mr Tan. The award which is one of Belgium’s highest honours was granted in recognition of all the efforts and investments the HNA Group has made over the years to establish a strong relationship between China and Belgium. It highlights the recent decision by the Group to launch a new route, between Brussels and Shanghai, on the 46th anniversary of the establishment of relations between Belgium and China.

HNA Group is a global Fortune 500 company focused on tourism, logistics, and financial services.  Since its founding in 1993, HNA Group has evolved from a regional airline based on Hainan Island in southern China into a global company with approximately $145 billion of assets, more than $90 billion in annual revenues, and an international workforce of 410,000 employees, primarily across the Americas, Europe and Asia. HNA’s tourism business is a fast-growing, vertically-integrated global player with market-leading positions in aviation, hotels and travel services. HNA operates and invests in nearly 3,200 hotels with over 380,000 rooms across major markets, and has 1,250 aircraft carrying nearly 100 million passengers to 270 cities worldwide.

The Group has a strong footprint in the Belgian marketplace already, employing 450 people with an income of around 3.5 billion RMB (€445 million). The HNA Group has a presence in industries spanning aviation, hotels, trailer leasing and technology distribution.

On 25 October 2017, the day of the 46th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Kingdom of Belgium and the Peoples Republic of China, Hainan Airlines will launch a brand-new route between Brussels and Shanghai. It is a new direct connection between the two cities and will have three flights a week. The move further strengthens the relationship between Belgium and China, and will open up a direct route between China’s financial capital and the heart of Europe.

In July 2006, the HNA Group’s subsidiary company Hainan Airlines officially opened the Brussels – Beijing flight route, the only direct flight between Belgium and China. In 2016 alone, 107,500 passengers travelled between Brussels and Beijing, making this a highly successful route. Additionally, in 2015, the ChicagoBrusselsMunich freight flight route launched. The aim was to provide global connectivity between China and the US, via Brussels. The establishment of the Belgium – China transport axis has strengthened the relations and dialogue between the two countries, making contributions to both countries’ economies, tourism industry and cultural exchange.

With the exciting launch of our new direct route between Brussels and Shanghai in October, we look forward deepening our relationships with Belgium

Adam Tan, who is also one of the founders of the HNA Group, said: “As I stand here today, representing HNA Group, I feel extremely privileged to be awarded the great honor of the Commander of the Order of the Crown. On behalf of HNA, I would like to express my deepest thanks to the Royal Family and Government of Belgium for this award, which represents the close relationship forged over many years between the country of Belgium and the HNA Group. With the exciting launch of our new direct route between Brussels and Shanghai in October, we look forward deepening our relationships with Belgium“.

The Order of the Crown which is awarded by royal decree, is one of Belgium’s highest honours and is awarded for services rendered to the Belgian state, especially for meritorious service in public employment but also for distinguished artistic, literary or scientific achievements or for commercial or industrial services in Belgium. The Commander is the third highest rank of the Order of the Crown.  Notable past recipients of the award are Amélie Nothomb, a Belgian novelist whose books are among the top literary sales and have been translated into several languages, Steven Spielberg who received the award for the movie he made about Tintin, and Flemish actor and comedian Gaston Berghmans.