DENVER (CBS4) – A new Boeing Dreamliner took off on its first international flight from Denver to Tokyo Monday afternoon.
Gov. John Hickenlooper and Mayor Michael Hancock joined officials from United Airlines Monday morning for the sendoff, which was marked by traditional Japanese rituals including a sake toast.
Both Colorado leaders say the flight opens new doors to trade, and will bring approximately 30,000 new visitors each year. They say it will create 1,500 jobs while opening new markets.
“(This is part of) building a new bridge between Colorado and all of Asia, strengthening our international connectivity and elevating the entire Denver metro area onto the global stage,” said Hancock.
A Colorado trade delegation is on the flight to take advantage of the easier access to markets.
PHOTO GALLERY: United Shows Off Dreamliner 787
Boeing’s new Dreamliner offers bigger windows, luxury seats and the latest in aircraft engineering.
“It’s a dream to fly, it’s a great airplane,” the pilot said. “There’s so much innovation in the airplane, the ability of the airplane to do the things it does is just — it’s pretty impressive.”
The new flight turns nearly two days of travel on connecting flights into one, non-stop 12-hour trip. That’s great news for tourists and business travelers.
“This is one of the greatest ways wealth is created,” Hickenlooper said. “To connect different communities that have different needs and capacities to create things.”
Colorado government, business and airport leaders have been trying to land the flight for 30 years, believing that opening the skies above will create new business on the ground.
“This flight will not only stimulate economic growth and increase foreign investment in trade, but it will provide new avenues for tourism, education, and cultural exchanges,” Hancock said.
The flight is expected to bring in an estimated $130 million to the state in economic activity every year.
Nine drummers from a Denver high school will also get a chance to travel on one of the first ever Dreamliner flights to Japan.
The Denver Post reported the Montbello students were hand-selected by Hancock. They’ll stay with host families and perform alongside traditional Japanese Taiko drummers.
The students had their orientation on last Saturday. They asked about everything from communication to packing to showering. The students will be in Japan for 11 days.