Hainan Air links San Jose, Beijing

Updated: 2015-04-17 12:03

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco(China Daily USA)

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Hainan Airlines, China's largest privately owned airline, celebrated its new air route linking Beijing and San Jose, in California, on Wednesday with representatives of the City of San Jose and the Mineta San Jose International Airport.

A Boeing 787 Dreamliner will fly five non-stop flights a week between the two cities starting June 15 this year. Currently, San Francisco International Airport is the only one in the Bay Area offering nonstop daily service to China.

Speaking at the function held at San Jose City Hall, Pubin Liang, Hainan Airlines managing director for North America, said, "Hainan started as a regional airlines back in the '90s and after 20 short years it now serves nonstop international routes that travel around the globe."

The new flight will be the carrier's fifth North American destination, joining Seattle/Tacoma, Boston, Chicago and Toronto, Liang told around 200 guests attending the event.

According to the airlines' website, Flight 7990 will depart San Jose International Airport at 1:10 pm and arrive at Beijing at 4:40 pm the following day. Flight 7989 will depart Beijing at 2:30 pm and arrive at San Jose at 11:10 am the same day. The westbound flight will last 12.5 hours; the eastbound one will take 11 hours and 40 minutes.

"This is a merit that was long meant to be," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. "Silicon Valley companies have over 500 locations in China. Our valley is home to over 200,000 residents of Chinese heritage. There are very important emotional, economic and cultural bonds and we need to build bridges to enable those bonds to grow."

He also said the new route was of great interest to the city with "an impact of $105 million to the city in this region".

"I can assure you, we are going to do everything we can to make this flight very, very successful," said Liccardo.

"It has long been our wish for there to be a direct connection between China and San Jose, since it is the hub of Silicon Valley," said Xi Xiang, economic and commercial counselor of the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco.

"China and the US enjoy close connections in all areas and local cooperation between the two sides is underway. Last year, both sides opened 12 direct flights, which makes it a bridge between history and technology," he said.

Xia said Hainan Airlines is famous not only because of its dynamic development but also for its excellent service. "I'm quite sure the competitiveness of Hainan Airlines will attract travelers from both sides," he said.

San Jose officials and Silicon Valley business leaders had been in discussions with Hainan since 2014. Beijing has been identified as a priority travel route for the greater San Jose region that has significant business and personal links to China.

Mineta San Jose International Airport, owned and operated by the City of San Jose, served 9.4 million passengers in 2014. It offers approximately 130 daily flights on 11 domestic and international carriers to 31 nonstop destinations.