Cathay Pacific announced that they will start providing direct flights from Boston Logan International Airport to Hong Kong, the first direct flight between the two cities. Image: Cathay Pacific

US-Asia Relations Soar with Direct Flights

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On May 3rd, Cathay Pacific will launch the first ever direct flight between Boston and Hong Kong, reducing travel time by 4.5 hours relative to current itineraries that require a transfer. Four flights are scheduled in each direction on a weekly basis, with expectations of increasing to daily flights later in the year. Cathay Pacific will become the first carrier to directly connect Massachusetts and Hong Kong and operate the only direct route between Boston and an Asian destination other than Tokyo.

Direct flights have immense benefits, including increasing tourism and enhancing economic ties between the two destinations. Massachusetts is the 5th largest state in exports to Hong Kong from the US, valued at $1.8 billion in 2013, an increase of 150% compared to the year before. Hong Kong is also Massachusetts’ 9th largest source of imports, supplying $96.9 million of goods such as paper and manufactured commodities. Experts are also expecting Hong Kong to become a greater tourism destination for people living near Boston, boosting the tourism industry in Hong Kong.

Boston will be the 6th US city to host Cathay Pacific flights, along with Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey, New York and San Francisco. The airline operates in 46 cities in Asia, including 22 destinations in China. The strategic position of Hong Kong as “Asia’s World City” means that direct flights are likely to further increase trade between Massachusetts and Asia. Boston is also likely to become more popular amongst Asian tourists. Four of Boston’s top ten sources of international tourism came from Asian countries, totaling 263,000 people in 2013. Visitors from China alone brought in $225 million revenue for the city.

Across the country, American Airlines will also launch daily direct flights between Dallas and Beijing on May 7th, expanding on the current nonstop flights to Hong Kong, Seoul, Shanghai and Tokyo. Hawaiian Airlines have also recently submitted their application for nonstop flights to Tokyo from Kona, Hawai‘i. US-Asia aviation partnerships take other forms, as well, such as the new Memorandum of Collaboration signed between Boeing and the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam in January. Such ease of access between the US and Asia is likely to increase political, economic and social relations between the two regions.

For a map of all cities that currently host non-stop flights between the US and Asia, please click here.

Doris Xu is a Research Intern at the East-West Centre in Washington and an undergraduate student at the University of Sydney.