China's second-largest airline has applied to the People's Republic of China for permission to operate the first regularly scheduled direct flights between China and Hawaii.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that China Eastern Airlines also needs a green light from the U.S. Department of Transportation to begin the service.
Hawaii Tourism Asia managing director Michael Merner says the Shanghai-based carrier decided to apply for the service after successfully partnering with a Chinese tour company to operate three charter flights to Hawaii during the Chinese New Year holidays.
The Hawaii Tourism Authority's vice president of brand management, David Uchiyama, says the charter flights sold out in 14 days, and the airline wants to return.
Industry officials say a lack of direct flights and a difficult visa process have hampered Chinese travel to Hawaii.