Pending U.S. government approval, Air China will launch four-times-weekly service between Beijing and Houston on July 11.
The new service will see Houston become the first gateway in Texas and the South Central Region of the United States with a direct connection to China, according to Air China.
Air China, China’s national flag carrier, will operate the round-trips with Boeing 777-300ER widebodies. By selecting Houston, Air China will benefit from a strong international community with many business and leisure passengers who use Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport (IATA code IAH) as a global gateway, according to the airline.
Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport is also the biggest hub for United Airlines, a partner of Air China in the Star Alliance.
“We’ve seen a steady growth of air travel between Houston and China in recent years, and now it will become the first scheduled passenger destination in the U.S. that we’ve added in three decades. We look forward to serving Houston and facilitating stronger ties between China and the United States,” said Jianjiang Cai, Air China’s president and executive director.
At Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport, Air China will operate from Terminal D, which is the gateway for all foreign flag carriers into the fourth-largest city in the United States..
“As a critical economic driver for Houston, this new route will result in tremendous benefits to the region,” said Mario Diaz, director of the Houston Airport System.
Air China’s schedule for the route will see its non-stop flight depart from Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) at 3:00 p.m. and land at IAH at 3:30 p.m. on the same day, local time. In the other direction, the flight will leave IAH at 1:40 a.m. the next day, arriving at PEK at 5:00 a.m the following day, local time.
Houston will be Air China’s fifth gateway in North America, after New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver.
Air China is also upgrading frequency and/or capacity on its other services to North America. On March 31, the airline will increase the frequency of its New York-Beijing service from 7 to 11 flights a week. Additionally, the carrier will switch to Boeing 777-300ER equipment for the service, from Boeing 747-400s.
The airline’s Los Angeles-Beijing service, operated by 777-300ERs, will resume double-daily flights on March 31.
Air China will increase its Vancouver-Beijing service from 7 to 11 flights per week on May 17. The airline will also increase capacity on its daily San Francisco-Beijing service by switching to Boeing 747-400 equipment from March 31.