Air China celebrates one-year anniversary of Houston-Beijing service

Updated: 2014-09-05 22:48

By MAY ZHOU in Houston(China Daily USA)

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Air China celebrates one-year anniversary of Houston-Beijing service

From right: Neil Bush, Dr Chi Zhihang, vice-president and general manager of Air China of North America and Chinese Consul General Li Qiangmin at a reception hosted by Air China and attended by more than 100 distinguished guests on Thursday to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the airline's first-ever direct service between Houston and Beijing. May Zhou / CHINA DAILY

A strong energy-driven economy has helped to quickly build traffic on Air China's Houston-Beijing route above typical industry profitability levels.

A reception celebrating the one-year anniversary of Air China's successful Houston-to-Beijing service was held on Thursday. Guests noted that the resilient Houston economy produces demand for the service which in turn brings in more business opportunities for Texas and China.

Dr. Chi Zhihang, Air China vice-president and general manager for North America, noted that the Houston-Beijing service was developed into a daily route only seven months after it opened, faster than any other Air China international flight. "Houston should be proud," said Chi.

According to Chi, the ratio of tickets sold electronically in Houston is the highest, and corporate traffic is a strong component. After seasonal adjustments, the average occupancy rate for this leg is 80 percent. "This is very good from the perspective of the airline business,"said Chi. For the industry, profit starts at a 60 percent occupancy rate.

Chi said he's confident in the future of this service "as long as China and the US continue the good relationship we have right now and I am optimistic about the future of the bilateral relations."

Chinese Consul General Li Qiangmin said the popularity of the Houston-Beijing service indicates that the southern US, especially Houston, is economically vibrant. He believes that "this flight connects not only China and the southern US, but also helps to draw China and Latin America closer."

Businessman Neil Bush said he might be the one that has flown the most on the Houston-Beijing flight among all the attending guests, "I probably have been on this leg about 10 times now. I am happy with Air China service and I am happy to fly between Beijing and Houston directly without any stops."