Nonstop flights OKd from Phila. to Beijing; US Airways gets tentative approval for service in '09.

Philadelphia officials were overjoyed yesterday with a decision by federal regulators to tentatively award US Airways the city's first nonstop airline route to Asia, a daily round-trip to Beijing, starting in 2009. The U.S. Department of...


Fritz Smith, vice president for tourism at the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the agency was already working on attracting visitors from Asia to the region. In the next week or two, he said, the bureau will have versions of its Web site, www.philadelphiausa.travel, in Chinese and Japanese, similar to what it has had for several years in six European languages.

Business travelers are likely at first to be the main users of China flights, but US Airways will also need leisure travelers to fill up a 269-passenger plane, Smith said.

"Because of the size of the plane, they're going to have to put some effort into developing tourism," he said. "It's going to have to be a healthy mix of business and leisure travelers."

Contact staff writer Tom Belden at 215-854-2454 or tbelden@phillynews.com.

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