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Beijing, Seattle Air Link on the Way
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China's Hainan Airlines has applied to operate a non-stop flight between Beijing and Seattle in the United States starting next June.

Sources with the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) confirmed the news on Saturday.

After the application is approved, the airlines will become the fourth Chinese carrier for flights between China and the US. The other three are Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines.

The application follows a recent agreement between China and the US on doubling the number of passenger flights between the two countries by 2012.

Hainan Airlines, China's fourth-largest carrier, has applied to operate the Beijing-Seattle route using Airbus A330 planes.

The Airbus airplanes will likely be leased as an interim measure until Hainan Airlines takes delivery of new Boeing wide-body jets.

In 2005, the company ordered eight Boeing 787 aircraft. The first plane is scheduled to be delivered in June 2008.

There are currently no non-stop flights between Seattle and Beijing.

In a related development, another two Chinese airlines, Shanghai Airlines Cargo International and Great Wall Airlines have applied to operate cargo flights to the US, the CAAC sources said.

The transport agreement allows 23 daily round-trip flights between China and the US by 2012, up from the 10 flights at present.

In 2010, the two countries are set to begin negotiations on an "open-skies" agreement, which will lift restrictions on commercial air traffic.

(Xinhua News Agency August 13, 2007)

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