BUSINESS Charter flights launched between Shanghai and Pittsburgh


Charter flights launched between Shanghai and Pittsburgh

By Wu Lejun | People's Daily app

19:00, August 04, 2018


Water salute for the first nonstop flight Shanghai to Pittsburgh. (Photo: Wu Lejun/People's Daily)

Pittsburgh (People's Daily) - A direct seasonal charter flight connecting Shanghai and Pittsburgh took off on August 3, 2018, made the Pennsylvania city the first mid-size US destination to receive non-stop flights from China.

China Eastern Airlines flew its flagship Boeing 777-300ER with a 316-seat capacity on the new route. The return flight is scheduled for the same day.

Statistics show that nearly three million Chinese tourists visited the US in 2016, spending $33 billion, and this number is projected to grow by 65 percent in the next four years.

The airport has installed Mandarin signs and hot water stations to make tea at the airport, also stocking up on inventory popular with Chinese tourists. Pittsburgh has also been busy making the city “China Ready” — hosting a series of Pittsburgh Hosts China” training sessions this year for over 200 tour guides, hotel and restaurant employees and airport staff.

Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive told Peoples Daily,“It’s a fantastic opportunity for our region to become the first medium-size city in the country as a destination for Chinese tourists. Our region’s businesses, the airport, and our tourism industry will be the primary beneficiaries of this agreement.” Allegheny County Airport Authority, which manages Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County Airport is committed to increasing aviation services, improving customer service and inspiring growth in the Pittsburgh region. 

Pittsburgh is an important destination of the US east coast, connecting the Midwest. In history, Pittsburgh is famous as the "steel city”, but with the industry moving out of the city, Pittsburgh has successfully transformed itself in recent years. Now, the city has advanced manufacturing industry, energy, education, and a developed biotechnology sector.

“This is a huge step forward for the future, particularly for non-stop air service to China,” said Christina Cassotis, Pittsburgh International Airport CEO. “We are the first US market to tap into Chinas fast-growing tourism market with such a business model.”

Michael Matesic,CEO of Idea Foundry, told People’s Daily, ”It took two years from the plan to this day, but we've been thinking about the direct flight for almost eight years." Matesic said when the airport and VisitPittsburgh told him about the plan to bring tourists from China to Pittsburgh, he wanted to be a part of it. Beginning in 2011, Idea Foundry launched an international outreach program to support its mission, which in 2013 led to the creation of a China-focused marketing program called Friendly Pittsburgh.


Chinese tourists took photos after the arrival of Pittsburgh. (Photo: Wu Lejun/People's Daily)

Asked whether the charter flight will be fixed as a regular direct flight, Christina Cassotis said, "Our goal is opening regular direct flights between China and Pittsburgh, and make the city a popular tourist city of Pennsylvania. Perhaps this would take a couple of years, but we are confident about it."

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