China Eastern Airlines Begins Direct Flights Between Shanghai and Honolulu

Hawaii's airlift scene got a bit better today when the first regularly-scheduled direct flight from China arrived in the islands today. The inaugural China Eastern Airlines' flight  departed Shanghai on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. local time and arrived in Honolulu at 9:50 a.m. HST. Arriving on an Airbus 340-300, passengers were greeted with flower lei, Hawaiian music and hula at a welcome reception at the Honolulu International Airport. China Eastern Airlines’ new route will arrive in Honolulu on Tuesdays and Fridays at 9:50 a.m. HST and depart for Shanghai at 11:50 a.m. HST the same day.
“Since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in 2007, the HTA has been aggressively working to secure direct air service from China,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the HTA. “Today’s landmark flight is wonderful news for Hawaii’s tourism economy, and we remain committed to supporting this new route and developing airlift to meet demand.”
The HTA projects that more than 91,000 visitors from China will arrive in 2011, an increase of 37 percent, due in part to the new regularly-scheduled service and three charter flights China Eastern Airlines that flew earlier this year between January 30 and Feb.10. The route is estimated to provide up to $60 million in annual visitor expenditures, with the average Chinese visitor spending the most at $368 per person per day, and stimulate new job growth in our islands.
Based out of Shanghai, China Eastern Airlines has been operating since 1988 and has grown to become one of the largest airlines in China, connecting 110 cities in China and abroad. Packages offered include stays from three to seven nights through tour companies Ctrip and U-tour. While in Hawaii, the Chinese visitors itineraries may include visits to the Polynesian Cultural Center, Pearl Harbor, a circle island tour and optional neighbor island packages.
Also arriving today were 18 members of the Chinese media from The Beijing News, The Shanghai Times, China Youth Daily and other regional publications to cover the inaugural flight. They will be spending three nights on Oahu and Hawaii Island on a “familiarization trip.”