ne of our strategic objectives for the next decade is to continue to invest in Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. We are very bullish and optimistic about both markets,” Walter Dias, managing director for Greater China and Korea at United Airlines Inc, told China Daily in an exclusive interview.
“Looking around, one of the most dynamic places worldwide is Asia, where China is the most dynamic market. We see a lot of growth opportunities ahead,” Dias said.
Hong Kong SAR also has an important role to play, he added. “Historically, Hong Kong is a strategic gateway into the Chinese mainland and the third-largest market for United Airlines in Asia. We see its importance continue.”
In a bid to provide better services to local clients — such as introducing Cantonese-speaking cabin crew, for instance — United has set its flight attendant base in Hong Kong, with nearly 300 staff, Dias said. The carrier’s regional office is also based in the SAR.
According to Dias, United Airlines is the largest carrier between the US and the Asia Pacific in terms of frequency, with over 310 services per week, reaching out to 31 cities and 13 countries across the region.
It is also the largest carrier between the US and China in terms of seat capacity, operating 11 daily direct flights from Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong to various US cities.
Despite concerns over slowing economic growth on the Chinese mainland, Dias has firm confidence in future prospects. “I don’t see the growth dynamic in China wavering despite what has been reported. Even 7 percent GDP (gross domestic product) growth still means a lot today, because the economy is so large now ,” he said.
To grow the business, the carrier has been looking beyond top-tier cities as “core strategy” on the Chinese mainland. In June 2014, United Airlines launched thrice-weekly services between San Francisco