United Airlines is planning to launch thrice weekly flights to San Francisco from Hangzhou. The flights to be operated with the help of Boeing 787-9 flights would be launched starting July 13, 2016. Hangzhou would be United Airlines’ third secondary Chinese city where flights would be conducted. Earlier, the airline started operating flights to Chengdu in 2014. The airline will also be launching new flights to Xi’an in May this year.
Currently, United Airlines is the only North American carrier serving a secondary Chinese city. Moreover, the airline is aiming for further growth with the launch of flights to a new Chinese destination every year. The launch of flights to Hangzhou has come as a boost for the airline’s prospects as it had earlier unsuccessfully tried to gain additional slots at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Among other international airlines serving Hangzhou include Qatar Airways and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Both these carriers also serve Shanghai Pudong as well.
Media reports said that though a secondary Chinese city is not served by any other North American carrier except United Airlines, there are at least four Chinese airlines are presently providing connectivity between China and North America. The reports further stated that three more Chinese airlines are planning to begin operations to North American destinations later in 2016.
It may be recalled that Sichuan Airlines was the first Chinese carrier to launch its flights services between Vancouver and Shenyang in 2012. There was however a gap of one year as no secondary Chinese routes was launched by any airline in 2013. Later, the year 2014 saw the launch of two new routes, while one Chinese route was launched in 2015. With the launch of new San Francisco-Hangzhou route by United Airlines, the year 2016 is all set to see more Chinese cities being connected to North American than to Europe.