NEW YORK - A ceremony marking the launch of the first direct flight connecting Central China and New York City was held in downtown Manhattan on Thursday.
The maiden flight, CZ8419, operated by China Southern Airlines, took off at 8:30 pm on Wednesday (1230 GMT) from Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, with 235 passengers on board, and arrived at the John F Kennedy International Airport in New York at 10:39 pm on the same day (0239 GMT on Thursday).
A China Southern Airlines plane takes off at the Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, on Oct 10, 2014. (Photo: IC)
Wuhan is considered an economic, commercial and educational hub in central China with a population of over 10 million.
"By opening this direct flight, I think the aircraft will certainly create a lot of business for both sides and will bring people together," Huang Ping, Chinese consul general in New York, told the crowd of some 200 people from the local government, Chinese community, and travel agencies at the ceremony held at the New York Stock Exchange.
Deng Dingzhang, deputy head of the marketing department of China Southern Airline's Hubei Division, echoed the consul general's view.
"This flight will promote the exchanges of our two countries and peoples in every way," said Deng.
Moreover, New Yorkers originally from Hubei will find it much more convenient to go home by taking this 14-hour flight, he added.
The new Boeing 787-9 flight will operate three times a week. The flight will leave Wuhan every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and the return flight CZ8420 departs from New York every Monday, Thursday and Saturday.