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Non-Stop Charter Air Service From China To Pittsburgh To Begin This Summer

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Airplanes fly in and out of Pittsburgh every day -- non-stop from 68 cities.

The furthest away is Frankfurt, Germany. But how about Beijing, China?

"We're very excited to announce non-stop service from China to Pittsburgh that's going to start charter this summer," Airport Authority spokesman Bob Kerlik told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Friday.

In China this week, Allegheny County executive Rich Fitzgerald and Airport Authority CEO Christina Cassotis inked the deal with Caissa Touristic, one of China's largest tourism companies.

"Direct charter flights from China to Pittsburgh -- it means a lot to the community, and it really shows the direction we are headed from a tourism standpoint," said Visit Pittsburgh's Jason Fulvi.

The planes may originate in several Chinese cities, including Beijing, says Kerlik.

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"The planes will be filled with hundreds of Chinese tourists that will be coming to Pittsburgh, that will be flying to our airport, buying clothes, shopping, eating in our restaurants, taking advantage of a lot of cultural attractions."

Fulvi says shopping is key to the Chinese, especially with no state sales tax here on clothing.

"All the things that we have here that we don't have to pay tax on, that's a novelty for them."

"For them to come and go shopping, go to Grove City and the outlet malls, and Ross Park Mall and all the different shopping that we have in this area, I think that's intriguing to them."

And, of course, the region's mountainous topography, historic, and cultural attractions are extra pluses.

So after the flight from China drops its passengers from China off here in Pittsburgh, some folks from Pittsburgh might be able to take that flight back to China.

"When the plane is going back to China, they're going to be selling the tickets locally," said Kerlik.

No word on pricing yet, but even going the shortest way over the North Pole, it's a long flight.

"It's about a 13-hour flight."

That's non-stop from Pittsburgh to Beijing.

Fitzgerald tells the "KDKA Morning News" right after coming back from China that Pittsburgh is "the first American city to get this exclusive three-year contract, where folks from the largest travel agency in China will be coming into Pittsburgh."

Fitzgerald adds there is a developing middle class in China and they want to come to America.

"They want to come to America. They don't know Washington D.C. from Peoria, Illinois. to Pittsburgh, they just know of America," he said.

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