（by Jack Freifelder, from usa.chinadaily.com.cn）It’s the largest city in New England and the sister city of Hangzhou, China, and come June it will become another direct-entry point for Chinese travelers as Hainan Airlines launches its Beijing-to-Boston service.
Hainan, the fourth-largest airline in China, will initiate the nonstop service to the city that has been the largest US market without direct flights to China. Hainan Airlines Group secured federal approval for the flights in December.
“Business, leisure and educational travel and trade between the United States and China have been growing dramatically,” Pubin Liang, managing director of Hainan Airlines in North America, said in a Dec 4 press release. “This wonderful new link will stimulate this growth via the important Boston gateway.”
Massachusetts is one of the biggest markets for Chinese tourists, with close to 150,000 travelers visiting the state in 2012.
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. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) have been working with Hainan since 2007 to secure the service.
The service “will open up new commercial and economic opportunities,” Patrick said in a Dec 4 Massport press release. Getting nonstop service to China has been a long sought goal for Massachusetts, said Thomas P. Glynn, Massport’s CEO.
Patty Chen in her office (photo provided by PattyC Group).
Patty Chen, founder and CEO of the PattyC Group, a real-estate investment firm which also operates tours in Boston, called the direct flights “magnificent news for the Chinese population” of the Boston area.
“With a direct flight, Boston can attract many more residents and investors,” Chen said Friday in an e-mail to China Daily. “This flight is magnificent news for the Chinese population of the Greater Boston area. These people bring a great amount of Chinese wealth into the area and the direct flight will just open more gates to help bring that money from China.”
Air travel between the US and China has become increasingly profitable, thanks in large part to more fuel-efficient planes like the Boeing 787, so a number of US and China-based airlines have responded with intentions to increase the number of flights they offer.
Earlier this year Hainan Airlines doubled its direct flight service between Beijing and Chicago, pushing the number of weekly flights to four.
According to the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, China accounted for almost 1.5 million visitors to the US in 2012. A 35 percent increase in Chinese visitor volume was the largest percentage change among the top 10 international visitation markets.
In addition to the Boston-Bejing service, Logan Airport is also adding several other major international routes, including new flight service to cities such as Panama, Dubai and Istanbul.