Hainan Air announces 1st Beijing to Boston directs

Updated: 2014-04-18 11:40

By Amy He in Boston (China Daily USA)

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For Warren McFarlan, professor emeritus at Harvard University, June 20 can't come soon enough.

That's when Hainan Airlines will officially start its direct service between Beijing and Boston, now the largest US market without any direct flights to China. Boston is the largest city in New England and the sister city of Hangzhou, China.

McFarlan, a guest lecturer at Tsinghua University, said Thursday at a luncheon celebrating the upcoming launch that he has made 81 trips to China in the last 14 years, all through US airports.

"Why am I so happy today? There are some places in this world that I genuinely hate. Number 1, Kennedy Airport. Number 2, O'Hare Airport. Number 3, Dallas Fort Worth. Number 4, Toronto. This is going to be an enormous route. And they even have it at a sensible time of day," he said, referring to the 5pm departure time from Boston's Logan Airport.

The airline will use the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the route, with service Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Haikou-based Hainan Airlines is privately owned and the fourth largest airline in China in terms of fleet size.

Massachusetts is one of the biggest markets for Chinese tourists. Hainan Airlines expects to serve close to 5,000 travelers a month on the new route, according to a filing with the US Department of Transportation.

"This has been seven years in the making, and good things come to those who wait,"

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said at the luncheon at the Harvard Club in Boston.

Deval was referring to meetings that his administration and the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) have had with Hainan Airlines since 2007.

Massport is an independent public authority which develops, promotes and manages airports, the seaport and transportation infrastructure in Massachusetts.

Hainan Air announces 1st Beijing to Boston directs

It awarded the Chinese airline nearly $900,000 in subsidies over two years to help make the long-awaited Boston-Beijing route a reality. It included $541,000 in rebated landing fees and $350,000 in marketing support.

When the airline secured US approval for the new route, Pubin Liang, managing director of Hainan Airlines in North America, said that "business, leisure and educational travel and trade between the United States and China has been growing dramatically. This wonderful new link will stimulate this growth via the important Boston gateway."

"I think that over the last few years, we've been very successful at getting international flights, but I think that this one has had the most enthusiasm," said Thomas Glynn, Massport's CEO, at the luncheon.

The new route is being introduced to serve the strong demand for business travel, "as well as growing demand for leisure trips, between Boston, which is a center of higher education," Massport said in a statement.

Massachusetts is home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), colleges that many Chinese parents and students tour. Chinese international students made up about 40 percent of the international students studying at MIT in the fall of 2013, according to the school's provost office.

The airline is running a promotional sale for travel on June 20 for customers flying business and economy class to Beijing from Boston, according to its website.


 Hainan Air announces 1st Beijing to Boston directs

Chen Feng, chairman of HNA Group, the parent copmany of Hainan Airlines, at a launch event for the new direct flights between Boston and Beijing at the Harvard Club in Boston on Thursday. Amy He / China Daily

(China Daily USA 04/18/2014 page1)