BOSTON (CBS) – The area got a first look at the next decade of travel and transportation on Friday.
Hainan Airlines flew its new Boeing Dreamliner plane into Logan International Airport as nonstop flights began between Boston and Beijing.
On the same day, Mohegan Sun and Wynn Resorts made their transportation proposals for a license to operate one resort casino in Eastern Massachusetts.
The settings for the two events were in stark contrast but they may be the most important travel and transportation steps for Boston’s growth in the next decade.
Gov. Deval Patrick and Massport will host a luncheon Monday for business leaders to officially welcome Hainan to Massachusetts.
Hainan Airlines is part of the HNA Group in China that began operations in May of 1993.
At the end of last year, Hainan carried 55 million passengers and the HNA Group operated 16 airports in China and 73 travel agencies accounting for more than 110,000 jobs.
Boston will be Hainan’s third U.S. gateway and its first on the East Coast.
Recent changes to visa regulations permit U.S. citizens to stay in Beijing for up to 72 hours visa-free when traveling to international destinations beyond China.
Last year, about 158,000 passengers traveled between Boston and China with business and student travel making up a large part of that number.
Hainan Airlines President Xie Haoming was on the Boeing Dreamliner flight and was present as the flag of the People’s Republic of China was raised in Terminal E at Logan to join the international countries served by Logan that started with Great Britain and Ireland in the late 1940s.
As with Emirates and Turkish Airlines, which started nonstop flights to the Middle East earlier this year, an important link is their code-sharing agreement with JetBlue Airways for connecting domestic flights.
Meanwhile at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, the two casino bidders for the eastern region of Massachusetts were making their transportation pitches to gain the coveted license before a sparse crowd.
Both casinos would be located within five miles of Logan and present major transportation problems and opportunities. Mohegan Sun is proposing a casino on the Revere portion of Suffolk Downs while Wynn Resorts’ proposal would locate a casino in Everett on a former chemical plant site.
Suffolk Downs and its proposed operator Mohegan Sun built their presentation around remarks by former Massachusetts Secretary of Transportation Jeffrey Mullan, who rode his bicycle to the meeting, complete with a helmet.
Both proposals carry a price tag of more than $100 million for traffic and transportation improvements.
The decision could swing in favor of the Suffolk Downs proposal, which will save horse racing in Massachusetts and will pay for improvements to the Blue Line MBTA Beachmont Station. Visitors and workers will have direct access from the station to the casino.
A decision on the Greater Boston casino is expected by the end of the year. By the time the new casino opens in 2017, Logan Airport should be handling about 33 million passengers annually, up 10 percent from last year’s numbers.
Public hearings on the casino proposals are being held by the Mass. Gaming Commission in each of the cities this week.
Bob Weiss reports on business travel on Mondays at 5:55 a.m. on WBZ NewsRadio 1030.
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