Hainan links Beijing-Boston direct

Updated: 2014-06-23 05:06

By JACK FREIFELDER in Boston (China Daily USA)

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The introduction of Hainan Airlines’ fourth North American route, a trip that connects Boston and Beijing, is an opportunity to promote overseas development and introduce an “important two-way link” for travel between the United States and China, according to Hainan’s president Xie Haoming.

During a press conference to celebrate Hainan’s inaugural direct service between Boston and Beijing at Logan International Airport on June 20, Xie said that North America was a “key point” for his company’s international operations.

"Over the past five years, Hainan Airlines has opened three nonstop routes in North America," Xie said during a press conference at Logan International Airport on Friday. "Boston represents the fourth nonstop and it is also an important step in our plans for internationalization."

"The airline has built up a network covering Asia, Europe, North America, Africa and Oceania, and last year we carried over 26 million passengers," he said.

Hainan's maiden flight on the Beijing-to-Boston route carried more than 200 passengers from China to the US, including a group of Hainan officials, and landed in Boston on Friday just after 3 pm local time.

Hainan plans to use the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the new four-day-a-week service, which runs roundtrip on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Travel time between the two cities is about 13 hours, according to Hainan.

Following the plane's arrival on Friday, Hainan officials joined representatives of the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) for a press conference to announce the new service.

Thomas P. Glynn, CEO of Massport, said the launch of the new route gives Hainan a chance to capitalize on Massachusetts' role in the international travel market.

"Boston is now at the center of a revolution in world travel that positions it as not only the hub of the universe, but also the hub of a growing network of international travel," Glynn said at the press conference on Friday.

"One out of five Logan passengers now flies internationally," he said. "This testifies to the international focus we hope the Massachusetts economy of the future will have and the importance of service like Hainan's."

The introduction of Hainan's service from Beijing to Boston also means that the city will no longer be the largest US airline passenger market without nonstop service to China, said Joel Chusid, executive director of Hainan USA.

"Boston was the largest city [in the US] that didn't have nonstop air service to China, and this route is very important because of the educational institutions here," Chusid said. "This is our first gateway on the East Coast."

And to meet potential added demand, Chusid said starting on July 18 the carrier would begin running its Beijing-Boston connection as a daily flight through Aug 31.

Massachusetts is one of the biggest markets for Chinese tourists, with close to 150,000 travelers visiting in 2012, according to the Massachusetts office of travel and tourism.

Hainan, China's fourth largest airline, expects to serve close to 5,000 travelers a month on the new route, according to a filing with the US Transportation Department.

Hainan Airlines launched its first route to the US — Beijing-Seattle — in 2008. The Haikou, Hainan province-based airliner also operates flights from Beijing to Toronto and Chicago.

Hainan Airlines was founded in 1993 and operates a fleet of more than 130 Boeing and Airbus aircraft.

Hainan's launch is the fifth new direct flight trip between the US and China this month. The other carriers with new non-stop flights include Air China (Beijing-Washington), United Airlines (Chengdu-San Francisco), Delta (Seattle-Hong Kong) and American (Shanghai-Dallas). On Aug 6, China Southern Airlines will launch a flight from Guangzhou, Guangdong province to New York.

"The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has smoothly completed the inaugural flight from Beijing to Boston," Xie said, "opening a new chapter in the international development of Hainan Airlines."

Hainan links Beijing-Boston direct
Hainan Airlines' inaugural flight between Beijing and Boston - a Boeing 787 Dreamliner carrying more than 200 passengers - lands at Boston Logan International Airport on Friday. Jack Freifelder / China Daily