Chairman Huang-Hsiang Sun sees new aircraft design and memorable service as part of China Airline’s contribution to Taiwan’s culture
One on One with Chairman Huang-Hsiang Sun of China Airlines. American ups its entertainment options. Singapore unveils new Premium Economy. AC Hotel premieres in Chicago. Taxi sharing piloted at LaGuardia. Hyatt Boston Harbor completes guestroom renos. Venerable DC Mayflower joins Autograph. Qantas business lounge at LAX expands. Hilton and ANA partner so travelers experience more. Plus Apple Watch updates from American, Delta, Singapore, British Airways, Emirates and Air New Zealand.
What do you think are the key attributes American and Canadian business travelers should know about China Airlines?
SUN: China Airlines is the leading airline in Taiwan and the first choice of passengers planning to travel from North America to Taiwan.
BT: What are your current North American routes?
SUN: China Airlines offers 14 flights to Los Angeles, seven flights to San Francisco, three flights to NewYork and seven flights to Vancouver each week. China Airlines also has codeshare agreements in place with Delta Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines,Virgin America and WestJet. China Airlines also plans to increase the frequency of existing routes and launch new routes. New candidate destinations being studied include Seattle, Chicago, Toronto, Houston and Boston.
BT: What innovations are we seeing in your fleet?
SUN: One of our priorities is to streamline our fleet and upgrade our service quality. China Airlines is operating the new 777-300ER aircraft on its Taipei-Los Angeles and Taipei-NewYork nonstop routes. San Francisco will start in July.
The new 777-300ER aircraft features a Premium Business Class with 40 fullyflat 78-inch seats. It features the Sky Lounge to offer an oasis of Taiwanese culture in the sky, including the Eastern “Literary Tea-tasting Area” and the Western“Fashionable Coffee Area.”
The Premium Economy Class features expanded legroom and a fixed backshell design that can be reclined without disturbing travelers in the next row. The Panasonic eX3 in-flight entertainment system features a social networking function called “Seat Chat”that allows passengers on the same flight to message one another. Flying with CAL will be more than just flying – it will be a customized entertainment experience in the sky.
BT: What will the addition of a new aircraft mean for your trans-Pacific routes?
SUN: To China Airlines, 777300ER is a game changer. It gives us more flexibility and better economic performance and better appeal to our customers. The new aircraft provides a high-quality, comfortable environment for passengers traveling between Taiwan and the US.
BT: For North American travelers going to Mainland China, what does Taipei have to offer as a hub?
SUN: North American travelers to China can take advantage of China Airlines’ extensive network of 32 destinations in China. For passengers from Canada and the US arriving in Taipei, same-day transit is available to tier one Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Beijing and also direct transfers to tier two or tier three cities. Returning from mainland China to North America, overnight flights from Taipei to North America offer the perfect connecting flight.
BT: What do you see down the road for China Airlines?
SUN: We expect both the intra-Asia and trans-Pacific area to keep growing.The cross-strait market in particular still has tremendous growth potential. We would therefore like to increase our frequency on routes to Mainland China.
Aviation fuel prices have dropped. This makes us more cautiously optimistic about the market in 2015.
BT: The culture of Taiwan seems to play a large role in how you position China Airlines to international travelers. Why is that?
SUN: Taiwan welcomed 9.9 million visitors in 2014 and expects more than 10 million in 2015. The key objective of our new service and product offer is quite simple; we like to show the best of Taiwan on our aircraft. China Airlines sees this as a responsibility. When our customers step on our aircraft, they will feel Taiwan, hear Taiwan, see Taiwan, smell Taiwan, taste Taiwan, and of course they will love Taiwan. That’s all we want to do.