A group of 97 students from Lincoln High School, in Tacoma, Wash., recently traveled to China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, which is pretty awesome.
What’s even more awesome for AvGeeks was the aircraft that Hainan Airlines selected for the students’ return flight to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA): a shiny new 787-9 decked out in a new Kung Fu Panda livery.
For the uninitiated, Kung Fu Panda is an animated movie franchise created by DreamWorks featuring — you guessed it — a panda. Hainan is planning to paint six of its 787s in liveries featuring characters from the franchise.
The aircraft’s visit is the first to the U.S. for any of its KFP-themed planes, and, as such, was treated to a traditional water-cannon salute at Sea-Tac Airport.
Seattle was Hainan’s first U.S. destination when it expanded service to North America in 2008, and they’re actively expanding into other U.S. cities. Their newest route, Beijing-Las Vegas, is scheduled to begin December 2.
In case you were wondering about that headline, “prepare for awesomeness” is the movie’s tagline. But we think that custom liveries are pretty awesome, too, especially when they’re on 787s.
Representatives from Hainan Airlines and Boeing Commercial Airplanes were on hand to greet students as they returned from what sounded like an epic adventure.
The students’ itinerary included stops in Hong Kong, Sichuan Province (famous as the home of pandas), Fuzhou, and Beijing. They visited iconic sites including the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, and engaged with their peers at schools throughout the country.
“At a time when the political discourse around the U.S.-China relationship is not always positive, Hainan Airlines is proud to support exchanges like this one that enhance engagement between our two countries and build deeper understanding and lasting friendships across the Pacific,” said Hainan Airlines Vice President Hou Wei.