Sino-US ties reach new plane as flights expand

Updated: 2014-06-12 08:08

By Wang Wen (China Daily)

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The skies above the Pacific seem to be getting busier all the time, as airlines based on both sides of the ocean are putting more planes in the air-and connecting more cities-to carry rising numbers of business and holiday travelers.

This month, four major Chinese and US carriers are launching new trans-Pacific routes. And airlines that connect the two economic giants are investing in more aircraft and services.

"The air traffic market between the world's largest and second-largest economies is so attractive for airlines," said Wang Yingming, executive chairman and executive president of HNA Aviation Group Co Ltd, parent company of Hainan Airlines Co Ltd, the fourth-largest carrier in China.

Air China Ltd launched its sixth US route on Tuesday. On Wednesday, United Airlines Inc, which has the largest China-US network, operated its first flight from San Francisco to Chengdu. Also on Wednesday, American Airlines Inc launched Shanghai-Dallas service.

Hainan Airlines will offer Boston as its third US destination starting on June 20, and by the end of this summer, China Southern Airlines Co Ltd will launch Guangzhou-New York services.

The expansion of services will mean stiffer competition, but airlines are still confident in the capacity of the market to fill those seats.

"The competition is definitely fiercer, but the market is large enough for all of us," said Chen Gang, deputy general manager of China Southern Airlines.

High profits on China-US flights are prompting airlines to invest in the market, experts said.

"The China-US route is the most profitable route in the world," said Li Xiaojin, a professor at the China Aviation University in Tianjin. The profit of one trans-Pacific route is almost equal to three domestic routes, he said.

US-based airlines have about 35 percent of the market, and Chinese airlines have 25 percent, Li said. The remainder is held by carriers from other countries, such as Japan and South Korea.

But the market structure may be changing, since most major Chinese airlines are putting more resources into the US market.

For example, Air China is adding Beijing-Washington service. It already runs flights between China and New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Houston. The carrier is also increasing capacity on its routes, using a fleet of new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Sino-US ties reach new plane as flights expand

Sino-US ties reach new plane as flights expand

Air China launches flights from Beijing to Barcelona

Air China links Beijing, Washington

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