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Air China Continues Expansion in North America With New Nonstop Houston-Beijing Service

--New service makes Houston the first gateway for direct connection to China in Texas and in the South Central Region of the United States--

HOUSTON, Jan. 17, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Dr. Zhihang Chi, Air China's Vice President and General Manager for North America, announced Air China's new nonstop service between Houston and Beijing, pending government approval, in a joint press conference with the Houston Airport System today.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20080625/CNW017LOGO)
(Photo: http://www.prnasia.com/sa/2013/01/17/20130117134024917724.jpg)

"With its vibrant business communities and fast-growing diverse population, Houston is a perfect choice for an additional gateway for Air China. It offers the most convenient connections to China and beyond for our passengers from Texas and other neighboring states," Dr. Chi stated.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker welcomed the news.

"Houston is honored to be the newest global gateway for Air China as our international growth depends on strong relationships worldwide," said Mayor Annise Parker. "This new direct route to China will ensure our success in growing the Texas regional economy and strengthen the global ties to our trade partners in China."

Consul General Erwen Xu also applauded Air China's new flight to Houston. Madame Xu, China's 12th Consul General in Houston, said at the press conference, "Houston has always played an important role in China-U.S. relations. In 1979, Houston was one of the stops of China's late leader Deng Xiaoping's historic visit to the U.S. In the same year, it became the host city of China's very first Consulate General in the U.S. The nonstop flight between Houston and Beijing, as dreamed by many people for many years, will not only shorten the distance between Houston and China, but also help expand future cooperation between the southern part of the U.S. and China, and help foster stronger ties between our two great countries."

Air China, China's exclusive national flag carrier, is scheduled to operate the round-trip Beijing to Houston route on a new generation Boeing 777-300ER beginning Thursday, July 11, 2013, pending approval from the United States Department of Transportation. By selecting Houston, Air China will benefit from a strong international community with many business and leisure passengers who use Intercontinental as a global gateway.

"We've seen a steady growth of air travel between Houston and China in recent years, and now it will become the first scheduled passenger destination in the U.S. that we've added in three decades.  We look forward to serving Houston and facilitating stronger ties between China and the United States," Mr. Jianjiang Cai, Air China's President and Executive Director, said.

Air China will operate at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) from Terminal D, which is the gateway for all foreign flag carriers into the fourth largest city in the United States. Houston is a leader in the Americas for excellent facilitation of international visitors in a state-of-the-art Federal Inspection Services facility.

"We offer a Texas-sized welcome to Air China on the new flights to Bush Intercontinental that offer the Lone Star a direct connection to China," said Mario C. Diaz, Director of Aviation for the Houston Airport System. "As a critical economic driver for Houston, this new route will result in tremendous benefits to the region."

Starting with four flights a week, the nonstop flight will depart from Beijing at 3 p.m. and land in Houston on the same day at 3:30 p.m. Outbound, it is scheduled to leave Houston at 1:40 a.m. the next day, arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport at 5 a.m.

Houston will be Air China's fifth gateway in North America in addition to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver. China's national flag carrier continues its investment in the Americas with new nonstop services, product upgrades and increase in flight frequencies. On March 31, 2013, the New York-Beijing flight will increase from 7 to 11 per week. Additionally, the aircraft for this route will be upgraded to the B777-300ER. The Los Angeles-Beijing service, which uses the B777-300ER, will resume its double daily flights on March 31, 2013. Vancouver-Beijing is scheduled to increase from 7 to 11 flights per week on May 17, 2013. A bigger aircraft of B747-400 full-passenger aircraft will be used for the San Francisco-Beijing daily operation beginning March 31, 2013.

About Air China

Air China is the world's largest airline by market capitalization, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). It operates a fleet of 432 Airbus and Boeing aircraft. Its robust network of 289 routes extends throughout Asia, the Middle East, Europe, South and North America from its main hub at Beijing Capital International Airport where it offers unrivaled connections to cities within China and beyond. As a Star Alliance member, Air China has within its reach 1,356 destinations in 193 countries. Visit www.airchina.us or call Air China's North America Call Center at 800-882-8122 for more information.

About Houston Airports

The Houston Airport System served 50 million passengers in 2012. Houston's three airports, George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), William P. Hobby (HOU) and Ellington Airport (EFD) contribute $27.5 billion to the regional economy. Visit fly2houston.com and follow us @HobbyAirport and @IAH.

SOURCE Air China

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