Tourists in Hainan expected to fly to Boston via Beijing
According to Hainan Airlines, the company has sought approval from China’s aviation regulator to start Beijing-Boston flights next year in a move which would make it the second Asian airline to fly to New England.
The Haikou city-based carrier is seeking to launch a daily service to the eastern U.S. city starting next April, China’s civil aviation regulator said in a statement on Wednesday.
The aviation authority didn’t say when it might make a decision on the application. Hainan Airlines wasn’t immediately available to respond to queries.
Unlike New York, San Francisco or Chicago, Boston isn’t a popular international gateway for trans-Pacific flights, but the city is home to some 50 colleges and universities that account for thousands of mainland Chinese and Asian students.
Japan Airlines began Tokyo-Boston flights last April using Boeing 787s, a midsize long-haul aircraft that has helped make the route economically feasible.
Hainan Airlines, China’s fourth biggest carrier by fleet size, also plans to deploy 787s, known as Dreamliners, on the Boston service. The Boston route is in line with the carrier’s efforts to expand its international network without competing directly with its bigger state-owned rivals, which fly to the bigger U.S. hubs.
The airline earlier this month received the first of 10 Dreamliners it has ordered. Apart from its primary hub in the southern city of Haikou, the capital of Hainan province, Hainan Air also operates many flights from Beijing’s airport.
Hainan Airlines’ expansion ambitions come on the back of growing demand for international air travel from China. To date, nonstop flights have been lacking, prompting many Chinese passengers to opt for indirect flights through other hubs, such as Hong Kong and Seoul.
Hainan Air said previously that it planned to use the Dreamliners for existing nonstop flights to Seattle and Toronto, and a new Beijing-Chicago route to be launched in September.
Chinese airlines have ordered a total of 35 Boeing 787s, including 10 each for Hainan Airlines and Guangzhou-based China Southern Airlines Co., according to Boeing.
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