Asia, particularly China, draws closer to the US east coast once Continental Airlines starts a daily non-stop service to New York/Newark from Shanghai from March 2009. This is in addition to a through service between Cleveland, Ohio and Shanghai.

The latest survey statistics released by the US Department of Commerce show that Chinese visitor arrivals to New York City was 32.9 percent in 2005 over 27.3 percent in 2004 (followed by Los Angeles’ 31.2 percent and San Francisco’s 27.6 percent). This was spurred by factors such as trade, tourism and education. Cleveland is the location of major manufacturing enterprises which have outsourced operations to China.

A decade ago, the airline launched a US$2 billion development plan to establish its international hub at Newark Liberty, which included the dedicated Terminal C with customs and immigrations facilities. It now provides 25 percent of its seats to travellers in the US metropolitan area, while international tickets form one-half of total passenger revenue. It currently flies direct between Newark and two other Chinese destinations, Beijing and Hongkong, using a Boeing B777-200 aircraft.

The same year will also see the first delivery of Continental’s B787 Dreamliner, of which it has 25 on order, including 17 B787-9 and eight B787-8.  “Since we placed our initial 787 order in December 2004, we have become even more impressed with the 787 and its capabilities,” says Larry Kellner, Continental’s chairman and CEO.  “The increased size and range of the 787-9 will allow us to serve more cities with the lowest operating seat cost of any aircraft in our fleet.”

Also keeping up with the technology required by savvy travellers, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey recently launched the Airport Info-Alert. This free subscription service enables the transmission of messages via the cell phone, PDA, pager or email, informing passengers at Newark Liberty, Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports of flight delays due to regional weather and air traffic conditions. Log on to for more details.

Julian Tan