Sichuan Airlines prepares to launch new route

Monday, November 13, 2023


Sichuan Airlines is preparing to launch a new route to Los Angeles later this month.

It is after a further increase in the number of nonstop flights permitted between China and the U.S.

Capacity between the world’s two largest economies has been steadily rising since September. Is has happened after an agreement to gradually enhance flight frequencies.

There had been significant restriction since the beginning of the pandemic.

The U.S. Transportation Department (DOT) doubled the authorized number of Chinese passenger flights.

It allowed to fly to the U.S. from 12 per week in August to 24 per week from Oct. 29.

The Chinese government also agreed permit the same increase for U.S. airlines.

Starting from Nov. 9, the U.S. will allow Chinese carriers to operate 35 roundtrips per week, representing an increase of 11 frequencies.

As part of the expansion, Sichuan Airlines has received approval to launch a new route connecting Chengdu and Los Angeles.

According to a filing with the DOT, the Star Alliance member intends to provide nonstop service linking Chengdu Tianfu International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) starting on Nov. 24.

The flights, utilizing Airbus A350-900 aircraft, will operate twice a week with a technical stop at Hangzhou Xiaoshan International Airport on the return leg.

Data provided by OAG Schedules Analyser shows that the route will be the first to connect the cities since February 2020. Then Hainan Airlines suspended service between Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport and LAX after three years of operation.

The increased China-U.S. frequencies will also allow Air China to resume flights between Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) and Washington Dulles International Airport from Nov. 21, operating twice a week via LAX on the return leg.

The airline also plans to provide an additional nonstop weekly PEK-LAX service from Nov. 23.

China Eastern Airlines is set to increase capacity to LAX by adding two more weekly frequencies on its existing route from Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) from Nov. 25.

Meanwhile China Southern Airlines intends to expand Wuhan-San Francisco International Airport (SFO) by one flight per week from Nov. 30.

Elsewhere, Hainan Airlines plans to make a return to the U.S. market for the first time since the pandemic on Nov. 26 with the resumption of flights to Boston.

Schedules filed with the DOT show the Haikou-headquartered carrier will operate a 3X-weekly service between PEK and Boston Logan International Airport.

There will be a stop at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) on the return leg.

Despite the positive trajectory in China-U.S. frequencies, the numbers permitted still fall significantly below the more than 150 roundtrip flights allowed by each country before restrictions were imposed in early 2020.

According to OAG data, nonstop capacity between the countries stands at 30,100 two-way weekly seats during the week commencing Nov. 6, compared with 175,000 at this time in 2019.

On the U.S. carrier front, American Airlines currently operates four times a week from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to PVG, while Delta Air Lines provides routes to PVG from SEA and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County, flying daily and 3X-weeky, respectively.

United Airlines maintains daily flights to PVG from SFO and has just reinstated daily service to PEK from SFO.

The DOT has already granted the three airlines an extension of the dormancy waiver for flights to China during the winter 2023-24 season.

U.S. carriers have argued that their Chinese counterparts have an unfair advantage, given they are still able to fly over Russian airspace.

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