United Airlines has applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation for authority to begin non-stop service linking the airline’s hub at San Francisco International Airport with Chengdu, the fourth-largest Chinese city, from June 9, 2014.
The airline intends to use Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner jets to operate three-times-weekly service to Chengdu.
If the DOT were to approve United’s service application, Chengdu would be the ninth destination the carrier served in the Asia/Pacific region non-stop from San Francisco.
According to United Airlines, it offers more non-stop transpacific flights from the United States than any other carrier and nearly twice as many as any other airline from any U.S. West Coast city.
Subject to government approval, the proposed flight would depart San Francisco International Airport (IATA code SFO) at 1:35 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays and arrive at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU) at 6:50 p.m. the following day, local time.
The return service from Chengdu would leave CTU at 10:00 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and touch down at SFO at 8:50 a.m. the same day, local time. In each direction, the flights would cross the International Dateline.
Flying times would be approximately 14 hours, 15 minutes westbound and 13 hours, 50 minutes eastbound. This new non-stop flight would shave nearly four hours off the typical travel time between the two cities, according to United.
Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in southwest China, is the country’s fourth largest city, with a population of approximately 14 million in the urban area.
In recent years, Chengdu has been one of the country’s fastest-developing cities economically, according to United. More than 200 Fortune 500 companies have a presence in the city. Sichuan is famous as the natural habitat of the giant panda and home to one of China’s most popular cuisines.
From SFO, United provides access to more than 300 destinations worldwide, with non-stop service to 80 destinations on five continents – more than any other carrier. The airline says it operates more non-stop China-U.S. flights, and to more cities in China, than any other airline.
United started non-stop service to mainland China in 1986. Today the airline serves Beijing from Chicago, Newark, San Francisco and Washington Dulles; Shanghai from Chicago, Los Angeles, Newark and San Francisco; and Hong Kong from Chicago, Newark, San Francisco, Guam, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City.
Air China, China’s national flag carrier, is a member of Star Alliance and United Airlines is a founding member of Star, which is the world’s largest airline alliance.
United and Air China have a bilateral partnership that includes codesharing on selected routes and provides customers of both carriers additional travel benefits such as airport lounge access and frequent-flyer program reciprocity.
Air China offers flights to 59 cities from Chengdu, many of which would offer same-day connections to United’s planned new Chengdu service, acording to the U.S. carrier.
United was the North American launch customer for the Boeing 787 and now has seven 787-8 Dreamliners in its fleet. The airline has an additional 58 Dreamliners on order and expects to take delivery of one more from Boeing by the end of 2013.
Each of United’s Boeing 787-8s is configured with 219 seats – 36 in United BusinessFirst and 183 in United Economy, including 70 United Economy Plus seats with added legroom.