Only five years ago, speakers and panelists at seminars and conferences designed to explain to U.S. travel suppliers and DMOs how to tap into the growing markets of China and India learned that the absence of adequate lift capacity between the USA and the two country markets was a challenge. No longer. Even as traffic from the two nations is, according to the latest forecast from the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office, projected to increase by more than 70 percent between 2015 and 2020 (from 3.74 million arrivals to 6.46 million arrivals), service is expanding to keep pace with long-haul demand. Here are some recent developments in the matter.
United Looks to Growth in China, Openings in India: Somewhat stymied in its plans to expand lift capacity between India and the United States as carriers from the Middle East—especially Etihad and Emirates—United Airlines is looking to expand its service between the USA and China. The airline already has more nonstop flights between China and the U.S. It is now looking to start service to Xian, a city of almost 8.5 million people. And, a company spokesperson said, demand for service between Chengdu and the United States—service began in the summer of 2014—is exceeding expectations and more U.S. hubs will be linked to the service once the route matures.
Meanwhile, in order to challenge the primacy of Emirates and Etihad (as well as Qatar Airlines), whose service expansion worldwide has made the UAE and its international airports a major international connection for East-West travel, United is working with Air India, its Star Alliance partner, are discussing a new codeshare for services to and from India and this should provide seamless travel to multiple U.S. airports via United’s hubs in Chicago, San Francisco and New York. United already has daily nonstop service from New York to both Delhi and Mumbai.
“This is one sure way to deal with Middle East carriers. If we put our act together, we will be able to work out a solution,” Air India commercial director Pankaj Srivastava, told the trade publication AINonline. Air India is now exploring the viability of new direct service to Washington, D.C.
Virgin America Strikes Codeshare Deal with China Southern: Virgin America airlines and China Southern Airlines have entered into a codesharing agreement to offer seamless booking and travel between China, Southeast Asia and multiple Virgin America destinations across the United States.
China Southern will place its CZ airline code and flight numbers on Virgin America flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco including Boston, Chicago, Dallas Love Field, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Newark, New York (JFK), Seattle, San Diego and Washington D.C. The agreement allows one-stop booking on a single ticket and check-in and baggage handling through to the final destination.
In a statement accompanying the announced, the two carriers said that the agreement is unique in that China Southern is the only airline offering non-stop service between Guangzhou and Wuhan and the United States. Guangzhou based China Southern already offers flights to San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.
“We look forward to welcoming China Southern guests onboard our flights as we provide them with our signature Virgin service to and from destinations across our US route network,” said Adam Green, Virgin America’s director of network planning.