Hainan Airlines to launch non-stop Beijing-Seattle route

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SHANGHAI, Aug. 13 – Hainan Airlines has applied to operate non-stop flights between Beijing and Seattle starting next June authorities at the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced.

Hainan Airlines will become the fourth carrier to operate flights between the mainland and the United States, joining Air China, China Eastern, and China Southern. The proposed Beijing-Seattle route would be the first non-stop service between the two cities.

The application follows a recent agreement between China and the United States on doubling the number of passenger flights between the two countries by 2012. Hainan Airlines, China’s fourth largest carrier, has applied to operate the Beijing-Seattle route using Airbus A330s. The airplanes will likely be leased as an interim measure until Hainan Airlines takes delivery of eight new Boeing 787 Dreamliners which the company ordered in 2005. The first plane is scheduled to be delivered in June 2008.

The transportation agreement allows 23 daily round-trip flights between China and the United States by 2012, up from the 10 flights at present. The United States has been pushing China to implement an “open skies” agreement and the two countries are expected to begin negotiations to lift restrictions no commercial air traffic in 2010.