United Airlines flight to connect 2 'Silicon Valleys'

Updated: 2016-07-14 11:19

By Lia Zhu in San Francisco(China Daily USA)

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United Airlines flight to connect 2 'Silicon Valleys'

From left: Doug Yakel, public information officer of the San Francisco International Airport; Mark Chandler, director of the San Francisco Mayor's Office of International Trade & Commerce; Ren Faqiang, deputy consul general of China's Consulate General in San Francisco; Mike Hann, vice-president of United's San Francisco hub; Marcel Fuchs, vice-president of United Atlantic and Pacific Sales; and Captain Craig O'Mara take a photo with crew members for the new direct flight between San Francisco and Hangzhou at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday at the San Francisco International Airport. Li ge AND lIA ZHU / CHINA DAILY

A new direct flight between San Francisco and Hangzhou launched on Wednesday, linking Silicon Valley and a center of technology, economic development and cultural heritage in China.

The new service will be operated by United Airlines, employing the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which United said is the world's most advanced passenger aircraft, three times a week.

The new route marks United' fifth destination on the Chinese mainland and the 14th destination in Asia-Pacific route from San Francisco, making the carrier the first US airline to serve Hangzhou.

The flights will depart San Francisco at 2:20 pm on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and arrive in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, at 6:10 pm the following day.

The return flights will depart Hangzhou at 10:55 am on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and arrive at San Francisco at 7:50 am the same day. Flying times will be 12 hours and 55 minutes westbound and 11 hours and 55 minutes eastbound.

There's strong demand from tourists and business people to visit the cultural sites in Hangzhou and do business with the many high-tech companies based in the city, said Mike Hanna, United's vice president and general manager of the San Francisco hub.

United Airlines flight to connect 2 'Silicon Valleys'

"The flight really connects the Silicon Valley and the 'Silicon Valley' in China," he said. "We are very excited with the bookings so far, both from China as well as from the United States."

The new Hangzhou flights complement United's existing services to Shanghai, located 120 miles to the southwest and connected by high-speed rail.

The new direct flight will eliminate about four hours of flying time instead of stopping in Shanghai and transferring to Hangzhou, "a great benefit" for business travelers, Hanna said.

Last year, 2.1 million US tourists visited China, and 2.7 million Chinese traveled to the US, which means 13,000 people flying between the two countries every day.

"The direct linkages are very good evidence that there's more business that happens and more economic development that happens," said Mark Chandler, director of the San Francisco Mayor's Office of International Trade and Commerce. "Now we are going to see more tourists and more business."

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has become a gateway to China from the US, said Doug Yakel, airport spokesman. "Over the past two years, SFO has seen a rise of 35 percent of available seats going to China. With the new service, SFO now offers 75 flights per week to China, or 10 flights a day," he said.