Pittsburgh Announces Charter Flights to China in Summer 2018
China Eastern Airlines will conduct nonstop seasonal charter services connecting Pittsburgh and Shanghai, China commencing on August 3, the region’s first nonstop air link with China.
The flights, pending government approval, are part of a partnership agreement with Pittsburgh International Airport, VisitPITTSBURGH, and Idea Foundry. Pittsburgh will be the arriving and departing gateway for hundreds of Chinese tourists who will visit the U.S. East Coast this summer.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our region to become the first medium-size city in the country as a destination for Chinese tourists,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said. “Our region’s businesses, the airport, and our tourism industry will be the primary beneficiary of this agreement.”
China Eastern will fly its flagship Boeing 777-300ER, which carries 316 seats in a first/business/economy three-class configuration, on the route. The first departure from Pittsburgh will occur the same day.
“This is huge step forward for the future, particularly for nonstop air service to China. The charter-to-scheduled service model has been successfully adopted in other parts of the world,” said Christina Cassotis, Pittsburgh International Airport CEO. “We are the first U.S. market to tap into China’s fast-growing tourism market with this type of business model.”
VisitPITTSBURGH will work with Caissa Touristic in China to book hundreds of Chinese tourists at Pittsburgh’s hotels, restaurants, cultural attractions, and outdoor tours. Caissa was recently bestowed with Chairman’s Circle Honors by the U.S. Travel Association as one of the world’s top travel buyers, one of only three travel agencies in China and 66 in the world to receive this prestigious award.
The multi-year marketing partnership also includes a year-round destination marketing campaign facilitated by VisitPITTSBURGH, aimed at delivering other Chinese tour groups on existing scheduled flights via other international gateways in the shoulder and off-peak seasons. The VisitPITTSBURGH partnership with Caissa builds on Caissa’s recently announced strategic partnership with Brand USA.
“We are thankful for the forward-thinking vision of Christina Cassotis and her team at Pittsburgh International Airport,” said VisitPITTSBURGH President and CEO, Craig Davis. “These flights are no small feat. They open brand new markets that we would never have direct access to. VisitPITTSBURGH and all of our area’s tourism-related businesses are truly excited as this is a first for a region of this size.”
Michael Matesic, President and CEO of Idea Foundry, said this partnership will increase exposure to attract Chinese students, investors and tourists.
“The unprecedented rise of the middle class in China has led to a significant increase in world travelers seeking an authentic American experience,” Matesic said. “We look forward to welcoming these visitors and ensuring our region benefits from the financial impacts of these new friends. Our work with China over the last eight years has touched immigration, investment, innovation, education and tourism. Many areas of our economy can benefit from these new visitors once they see all that we have to offer.”