Didn’t take long for our first new year wish to get squashed. On Tuesday, United Airlines won preliminary approval from the US Department of Transportation to operate a daily non-stop flight between Washington, D.C. and Beijing starting this March, beating out proposals from fellow carriers Northwest (Detroit to Shanghai), American (Dallas to Beijing) and our favorite, Continental (Newark to Shanghai).
The politician and lobbyist types are cheering the decision.
“It means that I probably save two to three hours in my flight,” said Richard Bush, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “Anything that gets you into the hotel ahead of the evening rush hour (in Beijing) is great.”
Even a Georgetown professor chimed in:
“It’s overdue,” said James Millward, an associate professor of Chinese history at Georgetown University. “It shortens the time and shortens the fatigue that is part of international travel.”
Needless to say, this Shanghaiist isn’t exactly thrilled with the decision. While we certainly understand the symbolic gesture in connecting the two capitals, a direct flight linking the financial/cultural centers of both nations would seem to have greater economic and practical import (and it would help us get back home to Jersey faster … we’re not too excited about flying China Eastern to JFK). Oh well, there’s always next year and another US-to-China slot — good thing 2008 is right around the corner, only 355 days to go …