Excitement is building for the arrival of China Eastern Airlines’ inaugural nonstop charter flight from Shanghai at Pittsburgh International Airport this afternoon.
An event two years in the making, the China charters are expected to generate millions of dollars in tourism and related economic development for the region, and lead to regular scheduled commercial service in the future.
At the plane-side welcome celebration, airport staff and community partners will greet more than 300 tourists aboard the Boeing 777-300ER, many of them visiting the U.S. for the first time. The visitors will board charter buses to their hotels before a formal dinner at the Carnegie Science Center Friday evening.
On Saturday, groups will see sights in Pittsburgh including a ride on the Duquesne Incline for a city skyline view from Mount Washington and tour the International Rooms at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Museum of Art, before departing to other cities along the East Coast.
The group returns to Pittsburgh International on Aug. 11 for a gala sendoff that includes music, Chinese dancers, cake and other festivities.
“It’s our goal to make Pittsburgh a thriving international tourist destination,” said Allegheny County Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis. “We want to introduce Pittsburgh to China as well as welcome all of our new friends to this great city and region.”