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Despite stalled growth in China, Brazil and Russia, a wave of newly middle-class travelers from the BRICs and beyond will start visiting international destinations in the coming decades — dwarfing the numbers we’ve seen thus far.
Since last year, three airlines have launched nonstop flights between Houston and an Asian city highlighting increased business and leisure demand for the routes.
Korean Air‘s first nonstop flight between Houston and Seoul took off Friday morning.
The nonstop daily flight from Bush Intercontinental Airport is slated to arrive at Incheon International Airport this afternoon. The return flight will leave Seoul at 9:10 a.m. and return at 8:40 a.m.
Airline officials said since the flight was announced this spring the first return flight was booked solid, in advance of Houston’s Oil and Technology conference next week.
“Korean Air is excited about serving Houston and the Gulf coast,” says John Jackson, Korean Air Vice President for the Americas, in a statement. “There are enormous opportunities here and we are proud and honored to be a part of the dynamic Houston business community.”
City and airport officials have touted the flight as another way to enhance the connection between Houston and Asia.
“Houston shares a deep connection with the Asian region of the world, a fact that benefits our city both economically as well as culturally,” Mayor Annise Parker said in a statement. “This new service from Korean Air will allow that connection to grow even stronger.”
Houston Airport System director Mario Diaz said he is confident the airline will succeed in Houston, in part, because of Houston’s booming Asian population over the last decade. In that time, the Asian demographic has grown by 70 percent, outpacing other major cities, including New York City, Los Angeles and Seattle.
“The partnership being established between Korean Air and air passengers in Houston will undoubtedly prove to be mutually beneficial,” Diaz said.
Before the first flight, Korean Air said it would offer a daily service between the two cities, as opposed to its original plan of only four flights a week based on demand and initial reservations. Since last year, Turkish Airlines and Air China also began offering daily nonstop flights to Istabbul and Beijing respectively.
(c)2014 the Houston Chronicle. Distributed by MCT Information Services.