As Asian countries emerge from years of lockdown, United Airlines is moving to capitalize on the region’s reopening and escalating demand.
The Chicago-based Star Alliance carrier revealed on Tuesday that it will introduce three new routes in October due to high demand in the Asia-Pacific region. The upcoming routes include direct flights from San Francisco to Manila, as well as Los Angeles to Hong Kong and Tokyo Narita.
“In the early days of the pandemic, the Pacific was by far the slowest region to recover. Over the last couple of years, we’ve been very intentional in bringing back capacity, looking for how we can get both passenger and cargo demand to justify capacity increases,” said Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of global network planning and alliances.
He added that despite the slow start, demand has skyrocketed. “In general, the Pacific is as strong, if not stronger, than the Atlantic today.”
Beginning in late October, United will become the only U.S. Airline to fly nonstop to Manila. The new route will serve many American holidaymakers, as well as California’s sizable Filipino population. Additionally, United will launch a new service between Los Angeles and Hong Kong, building on its service from San Francisco.
The airline will also resume non-stop flights between Los Angeles and Tokyo Narita, adding to its existing Los Angeles and Tokyo-Haneda service.
“Now that Japan is fully open, we wanted to get back in the market, and it’s always been our plan and always was our plan to have double daily service,” said Quayle.
Finally, the airline will also increase flying to Taipei with a second daily year-round service from San Francisco.
The newly added routes will mean the airline’s transpacific network will be 50% larger than all other U.S. airlines combined. United’s Asia-Pacific presence will now be 40% larger (excluding Mainland China) than in 2019.
The airline confirmed that its Chinese capacity remains unchanged, with a current schedule limited to four weekly flights on the San Francisco to Shanghai route.
“We’re working closely with the U.S. government. Just like all the U.S. airlines are working with the DOT, and the DOT is working with China to figure out a way to increase capacity,” he said.
Similarly, east coast Asian flights continue to experience a lack of progress. As United intensifies its operations from the west coast, the airline has acknowledged constraints on the east coast, resulting in the delayed re-start of a key route.
“Unfortunately, we do not have the ability to overfly Russia, so we cannot add the flight back between New York and Hong Kong. We just have to wait for a resolution with Russia.”