WASHINGTON, June 11 (Xinhua) -- As Air China's first direct flight linking Beijing and Washington touched down at Dulles International Airport on Tuesday, elated as the mood was, questions were also raised as to why China's national flagship carrier had opened up such a key route so late.
Political and security concerns first come to people's mind, the thought that Washington may not be happy to see a Chinese carrier operate air routes connecting the world's two most important capital cities.
This theory was proved to be paranoid however, as Chi Zhihang, Vice President of Air China North America, said the company had waited to launch the route until the demand was enough to keep direct flights profitable.
Before the U.S. government loosened the approvals of Chinese citizen's visas to the United States, most passengers between Beijing and Washington were government officials and scholars, and not enough keep a regular direct flight, Chi said.
"But after the visa approval was eased, the number of Chinese tourists to the United States began to surge, and many of them flocked into the U.S. capital. Currently, the number of passengers between Beijing and Washington are ample enough to sustain the direct flight," he said, adding: "We are not inhibited from operating the direct flight between Beijing and Washington by the U.S. aviation authorities."
Chi's explanation is a concrete example of the fact that not every business case concerning China and United States is affected by political and security concerns. In many cases, business is business.
Wang Yinxiang, Vice President of Air China, said of the launch, "We are very honored to connect the centers of governments of China and the United States. We are pleased to link two of the world's greatest capital cities with our new services, providing greater connectivity to promote bilateral trade, commerce and tourism between our two destinations."
Virginia Governor Terry McAucliffe said the flight helps Virginia's agriculture and forestry products, as China is also one of the states's largest trade partners and a top advisor.
District of Columbia Deputy Mayor Victor Hoskins also said the new route is critical to accomplishing the city's five-year economic development plan and he, like others no doubt, expects more tourists from China.