and Associated Press
POSTED: 10:35 a.m. HST, Aug 09, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 10:50 a.m. HST, Aug 09, 2011
Some 271 China Eastern passengers arrived in Honolulu this morning on the first regularly scheduled flight between China and Hawaii.
The flight, which came direct from Shanghai, arrived at 9:30 a.m., 20 minutes ahead of schedule. Passengers were welcomed with colorful banners, lei, Hawaiian music and hula.
Gov. Neil Abercrombie was expected to greet them later this morning at a reception held in their honor.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority projects that more than 91,000 visitors from China will arrive this year.
HTA President and CEO Mike McCartney said the new route comes after Hawaii tourism officials worked aggressively to secure direct air service from China. It is expected to provide up to $60 million in annual visitor expenditures and stimulate new jobs in the state, HTA officials say.
Among the passengers were 18 members of the Chinese media who plan to spend three nights on Oahu and the Big Island generating story ideas about Hawaii as a visitor destination.