Xi Jinping's Iowa airport arrival was weeks in the making

2012-02-15T06:27:00Z Xi Jinping's Iowa airport arrival was weeks in the makingBy JENNIFER DEWITT Quad-City Times Sioux City Journal
February 15, 2012 6:27 am  • 

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Officials at the Quad-City International Airport have been working behind the scenes for nearly a month on details associated with today's arrival of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.

Xi and the Chinese delegation are expected to arrive at the Moline airport between 3 and 4 p.m. before heading on to Muscatine. The delegation will arrive on a Boeing 747 belonging to Air China, the national airline, said Bryan Johnson, the airport's assistant aviation director.

"We're handling him like we would a presidential visit or at election time, a presidential candidate," he said.

The group will disembark the plane on the airport's air cargo ramps, where they will be greeted by a contingent of Quad-City mayors and other elected leaders as well as Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Johnson said the plans have involved communications and coordination with Chinese and U.S. government agencies.

"We've been at this for three to four works, working with the Chinese civilian aviation organization, which is the equivalent of the FAA," he said.

There also has been coordination with the Chinese Consulate in Chicago; the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C.; Air China; the State Department; the Chinese national press; U.S. media; and the Iowa and Illinois state patrols.

Johnson said security has been modified "to reflect the desires of the Chinese government in cooperation with the State Department."

"We'll add some additional staff to ensure everything has been addressed and the visit is secure and safe not only for the vice president of China, but we still have commercial flights leaving and arriving throughout the time he is here," he said.

According to Johnson, Xi's time at the airport is so limited that the public will have no opportunity to see him.

"We really suggest the public not come out here because of the congestion," he said.

Even with all details and work involved in hosting the international guest, he said, "It's nice to be part of history."


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