Apr. 28 – With Hawaiian Governor Linda Lingle scheduled to visit China for the Shanghai Expo, speculation is growing that there soon could be direct non-stop flights between China and the Aloha State.
The visit, which will coincide with Hawaii Week at the Shanghai Expo from June 6-12, may result in the introduction of direct flight services from Beijing to Honolulu. Currently, no such service exists, with Mainland Chinese tourists having to make stopovers in Hong Kong, Tokyo or Seoul.
The introduction of a direct service would be a recognition of the developing impact mainland tourism is having on the local economy. Tourist numbers from China are expected to increase to 100,000 this year, up from 60,000 in 2008. Mainland Chinese tourists also spend more money than all other tourists in Hawaii, outstripping even the Japanese with a whopping US$312 daily average.
Hainan Airlines, which consistently rates high in service and is already familiar with handling mainland tourists, are in talks for the route.