VANCOUVER, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Vancouver International Airport (YVR) welcomed its first-ever North American flight by China's Hong Kong Airlines on Friday morning.
The airport also welcomed superstar Jackie Chan, who has been chosen by the airline as their brand ambassador.
Hong Kong-born Chan arrived on the 12-hour cross-Pacific flight with a plane load of passengers, as well as YVR's president and CEO Craig Richmond.
The new daily non-stop service to Vancouver marks the regional airline operator's shift towards becoming a bigger player in cross-Pacific air travel.
"It's a big deal for YVR today," Richmond said at a welcoming ceremony. "Our vision is to connect Asia to the Americas. And we're thrilled to have Hong Kong Airlines on board as part of that vision. In fact, we're their first North American destination."
Hong Kong Airlines official George Liu joined the martial artist and movie star on the flight, which arrived at around 10:30 a.m.(0330 GMT) in Vancouver.
After doing a Kung Fu chop at the ceremony, Liu told Xinhua that Chan was clearly the right celebrity to promote the 10-year-old airline.
A YVR media relations staffer said they usually attract about four or five reporters to their airport press announcements. Nearly 40 members of media attended Friday's event, clearly due to Chan's star power.
"We can't find a better representative from Hong Kong," Liu told Xinhua. "Jackie Chan was born in Hong Kong, and over the years he has been a big advocate of Chinese culture, of Kung Fu and movies and all that. He also represents the best of East and West."
Chan, 63, did not make any comments at the event, but will remain in Vancouver for Canada's 150th birthday celebrations on Saturday.
Hong Kong Airlines currently flies to 36 locations in the Asia Pacific, but Liu expected that there will be a larger expansion into other North American destinations following this initial Vancouver route.
China's Consul General to Vancouver, Liu Fei, also attended the event. She said Vancouver has long been an important gateway between North America and Asia, and the new air link will help boost those ties.
The airline will initially operate the route using an Airbus 330-200 with 264 seats, including 18 business class seats.