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Hainan links Beijing-San Jose
New non-stop service will create opportunity on both side of the Pacific Ocean.
Any two high-tech hubs benefit from a new high-speed connection.
Hainan Airlines, China's fourth largest air carrier, has just linked one capital of innovation to another with the maiden flight of its non-stop Boeing 787 Dreamliner service between Beijing and San Jose on Monday.
A water arch salute flourished on San Jose International's runway at 11:50 am as Flight 7989 arrived with about 200 passengers from Beijing. A ribbon-cutting ceremony and speeches by officials and executives from both China and San Jose marked the event.
Sam Liccardo, mayor of San Jose, said he and his team had been working for five years to bring Hainan Airlines to San Jose International Airport (SJC).
"Today, we are taking off with Hainan Airlines. We definitely are pushing forward this project for our business community and our citizens," Liccardo said, adding the direct flight will create more opportunities for both sides.
Silicon Valley has about 550 corporations operating in China, and there are about 220,000 people of Chinese descent in the greater San Jose area alone.
Luo Linquan, consul general of the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco, joked that it would now be a dilemma for him to decide which airport, San Francisco or San Jose, to use in the future. He congratulated the airlines, saying the service was being launched at the right time in the right place and with the right people.
Today, China and the US are more closely interconnected than ever before. The bilateral exchanges in trade, investment, culture, science and technology, education and tourism are booming, he said.
Matthew Mahood, president and CEO of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, said as a business partner with Hainan Airlines, Silicon Valley will "make sure that not only the back of the flights but the front of the flights are all full."
He acknowledged that an increasingly strong demand in the local community, especially in business circles, for more expanded air service between Silicon Valley and China had led to the creation of the new route.
Each day, around 10,000 individuals travel across the Pacific Ocean. "Last year alone, there were 12 direct flights added between China and the US to help quench the thirst for more direct flight services. This is exceptional," said Luo. The adoption of the 10-year visa policy last year has helped alleviate travelers' visa application ordeal.
Hainan links Beijing-San Jose
"San Jose is the largest city in the Bay Area, the city with a large proportion of Chinese Americans, the city attracting more and more Chinese investment," said Luo, adding currently there are 30 Chinese companies investing in San Jose.
"Today is a great day for Hainan Airlines as we are using the most technologically advanced and fuel-efficient airplane in the world to fly our Beijing-San Jose route," said Mu Weigang, vice-chairman of Hainan Airlines, who flew on the maiden flight. "The Dreamliner will allow us to expand our footprint in North America and provide our clients with five-star in-flight experience."
Daniel Fadling, a captain with seven years experience at Hainan Airlines, will fly the maiden Flight 7990 from San Jose back to Beijing. "I'm excited to serve California for the first time. This is like flying back home," he said.
A 23-person delegation from the Silicon Valley City Council will join the inaugural flight in the afternoon
"When you have the right place, right people at the right time, success will be yours," said Luo.
Mu announced Hainan Airlines will launch direct service between Shanghai and Boston on June 20, and Shanghai to Seattle on June 22.
By Chang Jun in San Jose(China Daily USA)
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