No sign of letup in China-US non­stop flights

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS - By HEZI JIANG in New York hez­i­jiang@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

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.

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