On June 9, United Airlines begins non-stop, three-times-weekly services between San Francisco and Chengdu, China’s fourth-largest city.
In doing so, United Airlines becomes the first carrier to fly non-stop from the U.S. to mainland China beyond Beijing and Shanghai and the first U.S. carrier to serve Chengdu.
“With more than 250 of the Fortune 500 companies located in the area, and as home to the giant panda and Sichuan cuisine, Chengdu will be a popular destination for both business and leisure travelers,” says Dave Hilfman, United’s senior vice president of worldwide sales.
United will use 219-seat Boeing 787-8 widebodies to operate the three-times-weekly service.
Chengdu is the ninth destination in the Asia-Pacific region which United is serving non-stop from San Francisco International Airport, from which United offers more nonstop transpacific flights from the United States than any other carrier.
United’s schedule for the San Francisco-Chengdu route calls for flight UA9 to depart San Francisco International Airport (IATA code SFO) at 1:25 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays from June 9 and arrive at Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU) at 6:40 p.m. the following day, local time.
In the other direction, flight UA8 leaves CTU at 9:50 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and lands at SFO at 8:40 a.m. the same day, local time.
Flying times are approximately 14 hours, 15 minutes westbound and 13 hours, 50 minutes eastbound. The new non-stop flight will shave nearly four hours off the typical travel time between the two cities, according to United.
Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province in southwest China and 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 China’s fastest-developing cities economically, according to United. More than half of the Fortune 500 companies have a presence in the city. Sichuan is known for being the natural habitat of the giant panda and home to one of China’s most popular cuisines.
United started non-stop service to mainland China in 1986 and today serves Beijing non-stop from Chicago, Newark, San Francisco and Washington Dulles. The carrier also serves Shanghai non-stop from Chicago, Los Angeles, Newark and San Francisco; and Hong Kong non-stop from Chicago, Newark, San Francisco, Guam, Singapore and Ho Chi Minh City.
The airline recently announced it would begin twice-weekly service between Guam and Shanghai on October 28.