No sign of letup in China-US nonstop flights
The skies between China and the United States are getting busier.
In 2015, 75 weekly nonstop flights were added between the two countries, a more than 30 percent increase from 2014, and more are coming next year.
Six of the eight airlines that provide direct US-China services opened new routes in 2015, adding to their fast-growing schedules. Some even expanded service to China’s secondtier cities.
During the past peak season, there were 320 weekly flights from China to the US, and vice versa, according to numbers provided to China Daily by the airlines.
The four largest Chinese airlines — Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Hainan Airlines — expanded in the US market significantly in 2015.
Leading the “Big Four” with 55 weekly flights from Beijing to seven US cities, Air China started the new Beijing to Newark route in October and increased the frequencies of the Beijing-Los Angeles route to 21 flights a week.
Hainan Airlines opened three new routes — Shanghai to Boston, Shanghai to Seattle, and Beijing to San Jose — and became the first airline to fly nonstop from China to the heart of Silicon Valley in California.
China Southern started a direct route in June between San Francisco and its hub, Guangzhou, after seeing strong demand for such flights via Wuhan, a second-tier city, since that route started in December 2014.
China Eastern is the first airline to serve Nanjing, another secondtier Chinese city, with a new route from Chengdu to Los Angeles via Nanjing.
Delta Airlines, moving beyond its hubs in Seattle and Detroit, since July has operated daily flights from Los Angeles to Shanghai, one of the most popular routes. American Airlines added the Dallas-to-Beijing flights and began to upgrade the planes flying between the two countries to new 787s.
Thirteen American airports currently have nonstop flights to seven Chinese cities. San Francisco is connected to six cities in China, Los Angeles to five, New York to four, and the rest to one or more among Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
“The West Coast now has new routes to cities like Guangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan, and Nanjing,” said Luo Linquan, Chinese consul general in San Francisco. “The great weather in California makes it a wellliked travel destination all year long. Tourists flew into San Francisco to see the great schools, the Silicon Valley. They go to Los Angeles for the Hollywood and Disneyland.”
“One of the fruitful results of President Xi Jinping’s state visit is the establishment of US-China Tourism Year. We will expand state-province collaborations to promote tourism,” said Luo. “Tourism between China and the US will grow as the relationship between the two countries deepens. There’re a lot of potential.”
He hopes to see more Chinese translators in the airports, Chinese menus in restaurants, and Chinese signs at tourist sites.
United Airlines announced its plan to operate a San Francisco to Xi’an route in 2016. China Eastern will add the Shanghai-Chicago path, and Hainan Airlines will serve nonstop from Changsha to Los Angeles, making it the first airline to connect Changsha with North America.
Air China said it will add more flights between San Francisco and Beijing, and China Southern said it will expand again in 2016.
China will add at least 200 international air routes next year, according to Li Jiaxiang, head of the Civil Aviation Administration of China. China currently has 663 international routes operated by domestic and foreign carriers, of which 369 were launched in 2015.