On June 10th, a new non-stop flight from Beijing, China, landed at Dulles Airport near Washington, DC. United Airlines has operated a daily non-stop service between Washington and Beijing since 2007, but until now it was the only carrier to do so. The new route is operated by Air China, using Boeing 777 aircraft manufactured in the US. The flight will initially operate four days a week, bringing hundreds more tourists, students, and business people from China to the Washington area every week. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe was present at Dulles to welcome the first flight of the new service, stating that it will help Virginia’s tourism, development, and agriculture trade.
The State Department recently forecast that China will lead the growth in tourism to the US for the next several years, and the new Washington-Beijing route will ensure that the US capital is a more convenient destination for Chinese tourists. To support the increased number of visitors expected to be traveling to the US, the State Department is also taking significant steps to speed up the processing times for tourist visas.
The District of Columbia is not the only “Washington” with increasing flight connections to Asia, however. On June 2nd, Delta Airlines inaugurated a new non-stop route between Seattle, in Washington state, and Seoul, South Korea. Previously, that route was only offered by Korea’s two main carriers, Asiana and Korean Air. Each Seattle-Seoul flight will carry over 200 passengers, also on a Boeing aircraft. In the past year, Delta has significantly increased its services between Seattle and Asia, with new non-stop flights to Shanghai and Tokyo, and it will begin flying a Hong Kong route from June as well.
The states of Washington and Virginia both enjoy significant trade, economic, and people-to-people ties with Asia, and the increasing availability of direct travel options will only further increase those ties.