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June 11, 2014

North Texas businesses say direct flights will strengthen ties to China

From pet carriers to pottery to professors, trade between China and North Texas has flourished in the past decade.

And with American Airlines launching non-stop service from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to Shanghai and Hong Kong today, local businesses are hoping it opens up more opportunities to import and export goods and services between the two regions.

“We intend for Fort Worth’s international presence to grow, and China will be a big piece of that,” said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who sits on the DFW Airport Board. “They are definitely an emerging consumer where we’re shipping goods out and bringing goods into our region.”

Not only will the direct daily flights take Fort Worth businesses to Asia, but they will also make it easier for Chinese executives to come to North Texas and learn that the region is about more than just cowboys and J.R. Ewing.

“We encourage our vendors to visit us here and I think [the direct flight] will make that easier,” said Alex Smith, chief executive officer at Fort Worth-based Pier 1 Imports, which gets more than half of the products sold in its stores from China.

DFW Airport had hoped to land direct flights to Shanghai in 2006, but American withdrew its application for the route when it was unable to negotiate a contract amendment with its pilots union to provide for the 16-hour plus flight.

“We had lobbied long and hard collectively as a region and were very disappointed, but now we’re very excited,” said Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce president Bill Thornton. “Our leadership fully recognizes the opportunities in China and we’re going to take advantage of them.”

To read the full article that appeared in Wednesday's Star-Telegram, click here.

-Andrea Ahles

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