United Airlines on Wednesday inaugurated a three-times-weekly nonstop service from the U.S. West Coast city San Francisco to the southeast Chinese city of Hangzhou.
A gate celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony were held at the San Francisco International Airport, which were attended by Marcel Fuchs, United Airlines' vice president of Atlantic and Pacific Sales, and the Chinese Deputy Consul General in San Francisco Ren Faqiang.
Fuchs said that Hangzhou thus becomes the fifth mainland Chinese city served by the airline, in addition to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Xi'an.
He said that the service provides U.S. travelers with convenient access to Hangzhou, which is famous for its historic and cultural heritage and is known as the Silicon Valley of China with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba based there.
"We are connecting the Silicon Valley (of California) with the Silicon Valley of China. So we know there's going to be strong demand," Fuchs said, mentioning that many business travelers may use the airline to travel to high-tech conferences as many e-commerce firms are based in both San Francisco and Hangzhou.
"Or you may want to see many of the cultural sites, which is the West Lake or the Great Canal, or many museums," he said.
He also said that since 2016 is the China-U.S. Tourism Year and Hangzhou has been chosen as the venue of the G20 summit scheduled for September this year, "this couldn't be a better time for us to start our new service."
The U.S. airline has been serving China for 30 years. The new route has made Hangzhou the 14th destination in the Asia-Pacific region from the airline's San Francisco hub.