Pittsburgh International Airport welcomed its first nonstop flight from China on Friday.
A China Eastern Airlines’ Boeing 777-300ER was greeted by a water cannon salute after it landed and taxied on the tarmac. Kids from a local martial arts group gave a demonstration as passengers arrived.
Speaking through an interpreter, Lidan Zeng, one of the passengers, said she wants to visit universities in Pittsburgh and experience the city’s culture. Her tour group plans to visit the Nationalities Rooms in University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning, tour the Carnegie Museum of Art and take in the sights from the top of Mt. Washington.
The group will tour universities and museums in other cities during the trip as well.
The flight will return to China on Aug. 11.
The charter flight is the first direct flight from China to land at the airport. The Allegheny County Airport Authority agreed to pay Chinese tourism company Caissa Touristic up to $560,000 for two round-trip flights and to market the service to Chinese tourists for three years, airport officials have said. VisitPITTSBURGH will pay $300,000 and Oakland-based Idea Foundry will pay $50,000.
The flights will bring in an estimated $3.5 million in economic impact to the region, airport spokesman Bob Kerlik has said.
This flight will make Pittsburgh the first mid-sized U.S. city to attract nonstop flights from China, airport officials said.