Beijing-Honolulu flights now official
October 14, 2009 | Posted by Chris
The US Department of Transportation has given China's Hainan Airlines written approval to begin nonstop service from Beijing to Honolulu, USA Today writes. Hawaii state tourism liaison Marsha Wienert expressed optimism that Chinese tourists may provide a boost to the local economy, which is experiencing a slump in its tourism sector due to the global downturn. Hainan Airlines plans to initially service one flight a week and increase flight frequency to three times a week as demand builds. Hawaii has long been a popular destination for Asian tourists, and in recent years the number of visitors from China has increased dramatically: in the early 1990s about 10,000 Chinese tourists visited a year, by 1998 that number had tripled to 30,000, and last year the state welcomed about 60,000 visitors from China. This agreement adds Honolulu to a growing list of international destinations serviced by Hainan Airlines, a list that includes Berlin, Taipei, Moscow, Dubai and Seattle -- which in June 2008 became Hainan Airline's first US destination and today is serviced by four weekly nonstop flights from Beijing.