The city of Xi’an is the latest Chinese city to recognise the value of an air connection to Seattle, with their new Xi’an-Beijing-Seattle route opening last week. Xi’an, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi province, found that its citizens wishing to travel to the US were doing so through Beijing, Shanghai, or even Hong Kong. In recognition of the need, Hainan Airlines has added a second stop to that flight. The new route, flown once a week, uses the same route number and aircraft, so is not a connecting flight, but rather a one-stop service.
The route is currently being flown with an Airbus A330, but will be upgraded to a Boeing 787 Dreamliner in January 2014, which will make Hainan the first airline to deploy the 787 in Northeastern China. Xi’an is working to build their role as an international metropolis and western Chinese aviation hub, in part to boost the development of the western region. The addition of a connection to Seattle is a step in that plan; other routes to Europe and East Asia are planned but not yet in place.