China Southern will launch direct Guangzhou-NY service

Updated: 2014-03-24 12:17

By Jack Freifelder in New York (China Daily USA)

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On Friday, China Southern Airlines announced a new direct flight between Guangzhou and New York set to start on Aug 6, a move the airline sees as a boon to its growing cache of nonstop offerings.

Guo Zhiqiang, China Southern Airlines' chief marketing officer in China, addressed an audience of close to 100 at the Mudan Banquet Hall in Flushing, New York, and touched on China Southern's plans for the future and the amenities offered on the company's new, 16-hour nonstop flight to the capital and largest city of Guangdong province.

Guo said "there should be more direct flights in the future", especially given the upward trend in US-China travel over the last few years.

"Last year there were 1.7 million passengers who traveled between the US and China, a 15.6 percent increase from 2012," Guo said, citing data from the US Department of Commerce. "Among the airline companies in China, China Southern Airlines was the first one in the southern part of China to have a direct flight between the US and China."

China Southern's plans for the new route call for four round-trip flights a week between JFK in New York and Baiyun International Airport in Guangzhou.

"In 2013, China Southern transported over 90 million passengers and I think our passenger volume will approach 100 million this year," Guo said. "We are confident about this New York route, and I believe with cooperation and effort a daily flight will come soon."

Attendees at the event included members of the New York City Council, officials with the city's marketing and tourism bureau and members of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's office, among many others.

James Choi, China Southern's chief representative in New York, said direct flights would be a prominent feature for the company going forward.

"We are the newcomer here, so we are interested in this direct-flight market," Choi said. "I believe that the US-China market is expanding, and we will definitely see more and more airlines with direct flights between the US and China."

Air travel between the world's two largest economies, the US and China, has become increasingly profitable in recent years, and other airlines have increased or plan to increase the number of flights offered.

On Thursday, Cathay Pacific Airways announced a new direct flight between Hong Kong International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport, the company's fifth daily direct flight into the New York area.

Cathay - the international flag carrier of Hong Kong - and its subsidiary Dragonair operate both scheduled passenger and cargo services to more than 150 destinations in more than 40 countries.

Cathay is also a founding member of Oneworld, one of the three largest airline alliances in the world.

Hainan Airlines, China's fourth-largest airline company, has also made several successful overtures to expand in the US.

Last December, Hainan Airlines secured federal approval for nonstop roundtrip service at Boston's Logan International Airport and doubled its direct weekly flights between Beijing and Chicago to four.

Until recently, Boston was the largest US airline market without nonstop service to China, but that could change as early as June, according to Hainan.

Ralph Tragale, assistant director of aviation with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), said he and his colleagues are excited about China Southern's newest nonstop route.

"The airlines are looking for chances like this to provide customers an experience in a new destination," Tragale said. "These events are very important, especially for an airline that's marketing service to a destination that may not be as well-known across the globe.

"Guangzhou is a fascinating destination," Tragale added. "New York has more nonstop destinations than anywhere else in the US, but service like this offers a tremendous opportunity - not only for the Chinese people, but also New Yorkers."

 China Southern will launch direct Guangzhou-NY service

Guo Zhiqiang, China Southern Airlines' chief marketing officer, speaks during a press conference in Flushing, New York on Friday. China Southern announced plans for new direct service between New York and Guangzhou, which is set to begin operation on Aug 6. Jack Freifelder / China Daily

(China Daily USA 03/24/2014 page2)