PITTSBURGH, Aug. 02, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- PITTSBURGH, PA – Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) is proud to announce that China Eastern Airlines will conduct nonstop seasonal charter services connecting Pittsburgh and Shanghai, China, starting on August 3, 2018. This is the region’s first nonstop air link with China, making Pittsburgh a gateway for hundreds of Chinese tourists to visit the U.S. this summer.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for our region to become the first medium-size city in the country as a destination for Chinese tourists,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said. “Our region’s businesses, the airport, and our tourism industry will be the primary beneficiary of this agreement.”

China Eastern Airlines will fly its flagship Boeing 777-300ER, which carries 316 seats in a first/business/economy three-class configuration, on the new route. The first departure from Pittsburgh (PIT) to Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA) will occur the same day.

“This is a huge step forward for the future, particularly for nonstop air service to China. The charter-to-scheduled service model has been successfully adopted in other parts of the world,” said Christina Cassotis, Pittsburgh International Airport CEO. “We are the first U.S. market to tap into China’s fast-growing tourism market with this type of business model.”

VisitPITTSBURGH has worked with Caissa Touristic in China to book hundreds of Chinese tourists at Pittsburgh’s hotels, restaurants, cultural attractions, and outdoor tours to show them the best the city has to offer.

Pittsburgh area travelers can purchase tickets for flights to Shanghai through Travel2 and First in Service. For more information, visit www.flypittsburgh.com/chinacharters.

The flights are part of a partnership agreement between Pittsburgh International Airport, VisitPITTSBURGH, and Idea Foundry to help boost tourism and flight options between the Pittsburgh and Shanghai regions.

The partnership was developed with the help of Delante Partners, a specialist aviation and tourism advisory firm.

The Pittsburgh airport has seen a large growth rate in international passengers in the past year. So far in 2018, international passengers are up 27 percent. Pittsburgh already offers year-round and seasonal nonstop flights to major European cities including Frankfurt, Paris and Reykjavik. British Airways nonstop service to London Heathrow starts in April.

About Allegheny County Airport Authority:

Allegheny County Airport Authority, which manages Pittsburgh International Airport and Allegheny County Airport, is committed to increasing air service, improving customer service and inspiring growth in the Pittsburgh region. Its 2017 Annual Report detailing growth and improved financial position can be found at www.flypittsburgh.com/AR17.

Pittsburgh International Airport serves nearly 9 million passengers annually on 17 carriers. Over the past three years, the airport has doubled its nonstop destinations to include 74 airports. Air Transport World named Pittsburgh International its 2017 Airport of the Year. Travel + Leisure again named Pittsburgh International a Top 5 Domestic Airport in 2018. In addition, TripAdvisor ranked Pittsburgh International Airport a Travelers’ Choice Favorite for Shopping in 2016.

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Bob Kerlik Allegheny County Airport Authority 412-472-3840 bkerlik@flypittsburgh.com