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Carriers bullish on air connections to US

By Zhu Wenqian | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-11 10:07

Despite the slowing growth of China's international flight market, the traffic volume of Sino-US routes is still growing, and more airlines are launching direct flights between the world's two largest economies.

On Monday, American Airlines launched daily nonstop services between Beijing Capital International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.

It became the world's second and the US' first to fly this direct route, and the flight will be operated with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

"Our daily nonstop services between China and the US witnessed strong demand in recent years," said Shane Hodges, managing director of Asia-Pacific sales at American Airlines. "We are very committed to China."

China has become the top source of tourists flying into Los Angeles. Last year, more than 1 million Chinese travelers visited the city, meaning more than one third of Chinese who went to the United States will stop at Los Angeles.

Last year, Chinese citizens spent $1.6 billion in Los Angeles, and that number is expected to grow by double digits in the next few years, according to the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board.

The tourism and convention board also discussed with the US Department of State the possibility of increasing the number of visas issued to Chinese travelers.

Starting Dec 7, Air China plans to launch direct flights between Shenzhen and Los Angeles, and it will become the only domestic company to operate that service.

During Oct 20 and Oct 26, Hainan Airlines, China's largest private airline, launched direct flights between Chongqing and New York, and Chengdu and New York, respectively.

Those are the first direct flights to New York from western China.

It was in 2008 that Hainan Airlines launched its first direct flight to the United States between Beijing and Seattle.

So far, it has become the airline that operated with the most direct flights between the two countries.

United Airlines canceled its direct flights between Hangzhou and San Francisco a few months ago, only after one year it launched the service, as the nearby airports in Shanghai are taking away some customer flows.

Currently, United Airlines has direct flights between San Francisco and second-tier Chinese cities Chengdu and Xi'an.

"The flights between major Chinese cities and the US are quite saturated. Therefore, airlines are competing for the flying rights to operate direct flights between second-tier Chinese cities and the US, although operating pressures exist," said Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst and columnist at Carnoc, a leading civil aviation website portal in China.

"There is still demand for the Sino-US routes, but the possible variance of Sino-US relations should also be taken into consideration."

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