June 22 marked the first roundtrip flight between Seattle–Tacoma International Airport and Shanghai from Hainan Airlines.
The Hainan Airlines plane marked the event by taxiing through a ceremonial "water gate," a traditional Chinese rite for every maiden flight upon arrival at a destination airport, the airline said. The Shanghai-Seattle route is the airline's seventh in North America.
The new route will be serviced by a two-cabin, 260-seat, Airbus A330. The aircraft's business class comes equipped with 18 180-degree flatbed seats while economy class can accommodate up to 242 passengers. Personal televisions are installed in all 260 seats.
The airport and the Hainan Airlines Seattle Office jointly held a brief welcoming ceremony at the arrival gate, with Mike Ehl, director of airport operations of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, John Creighton, Port of Seattle commissioner, Kristi Heim, executive director of Washington State China Relations Council, Li Xiang, director of international business under marketing department at Hainan Airlines and several other guests in attendance.
Director Li said, "With the expansion of Hainan Airlines and the increasing visibility of the brand, our airline network is expanding as well. Since 2008, Hainan Airlines has been expanding into North American market."