BOSTON (CBS) – The right plane for the right time.
That was the message delivered by Governor Patrick, Massport’s CEO Tom Glynn and Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce President Paul Guzzi as they officially welcomed Hainan Airlines to Boston.
The event took place in the afternoon at The State House before a large crowd of tourism officials. The new flights to Beijing, China will begin with four flights a week on June 20th of next year.
Governor Patrick and Massport officials have been meeting with Hainan since 2007. The startup was delayed because of delivery problems with the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft that will be used in the China service.
Boston can thank Boeing for helping to make the new flights possible. Boeing’s 787 Japan Airlines flights have been a success. The new long distance fuel-efficient jets make economic sense for international carriers as they open new routes.
The Hainan flights will have 36 flat-bed seats in Business Class as well as 177 seats in economy class.
Flight 481 will depart Boston’s Logan Airport at 5:10 p.m., four days a week, arriving in Beijing at 6:50 p.m. the next day. The flight will take about 13 hours. Non-stop service will save travelers about six hours from current U.S. airports.
The total destination market between China and Massachusetts is over 150,000 passengers a year and represents $134 million in passenger revenue for the year 2012.
“Opening doors for the business community is why we travel around the world,” said Governor Patrick. This sentiment was echoed by Massport CEO Tom Glynn.
Convention Center CEO Jim Rooney was also very enthusiastic that the new Asia service would not only bring more people to events in Boston, but more international flights and easy access to Logan Airport would mean more convention bookings.
“The new service will mean a much greater awareness of Boston and Massachusetts and the new service will bring a large number of tourists to the city,” said Evan Saunders, CEO of Attract China, a Boston company that helps local Boston businesses promote the New England region in China.
Currently in China, when you mention Boston, the answer is usually Harvard and M.I.T. Last year there were 235,597 Chinese students studying in the U.S., an increase of 26% from 2011.
The last word on the new flights was delivered by John Quelch, former Chairman of the Massport Board and former Dean of China Europe International Business School with campuses in Beijing and Shanghai.
“This is terrific news. Direct air links to Asia are essential to Massachusetts’ commerce and higher education. First Tokyo, now Beijing. Congratulations to Governor Patrick and to Yil Surehan, route development director at Massport, who has pursued this opportunity for almost a decade,” concluded Quelch who has returned to The Harvard Business School as a professor.
The announcement of three new international airlines, Emirates, Hainan and Turkish Airlines, starting service at Logan Airport next year deserves applause for the entire Massport team.
Bob Weiss’ All Things Travel Reports can be heard on WBZ News Radio