WA China Watch Digest Special!

Joel Chusid interview to be, or not: Hainan Airlines business, corporate culture, and parent company HNA

Joel Chusid at SIFF 2017By Wen Liu   March 20, 2018

If you wanted to watch Chinese business or companies in Washington state, you probably agree that there is no better company to watch than Seattle-based Hainan Airlines U.S., operating here since 2008.

Before all the Xi Jinping presidency-for-life stories, there had been a number of big stories on China’s HNA Group, Hainan’s parent company: its multi-billion worldwide acquisitions, its mysterious ownership, its “fire sale” of properties in recent months, and its Co-Chairman Wang Jian calling these reports reactionary forces against his company and China’s rise.

At the same time, we all know how well Hainan Airlines is doing here: opening one new flight after another between U.S. and Chinese cities, flying more than 600,000 Chinese customers to the U.S. a year, according to Puget Sound Business Journal, being active member of the Washington State China Relations Council, and giving back to the community by supporting Global Innovation Exchange, Seattle International Film Festival, etc.

Hainan Airlines To understand it better, and to find any connection between these stories about HNA and Hainan Airlines, you probably agree, too, that there is no better person to interview than Joel Chusid, Executive Director U.S.A. of Hainan Airlines, as we all know probably the most prominent American executive in Washington working for a Chinese company.

Joel, kindly and out of his very busy schedule, agreed and said “Sure I’ll do what I can” to the five questions this author prepared: two concerning HNA Group stories, and three concerning Hainan Airlines, including Joel’s work with Jianfeng “Jeff” Sun, president/pilot of Hainan Airlines, the company culture, and the two new flights from New York to Chengdu and Chongqing. Joel indicated that he would probably not comment much on the two parent company questions and that he was more comfortable with the rest. That was mid-February.

And Joel said to give him some time, as one, his remarks would need to be reviewed by the PR people in China, and two, for them to do so after the Chinese New Year.

The Chinese holiday came and went, and so came and went China’s annual “Two Sessions” in March of the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. The “PR people in China” still haven't got back to Joel. Let's hope they will, but they probably will not.

(For more information on major events in Washington state-China relations, go to WA China Chronicle.)