- United Airlines has significantly scaled back its China route network, with only one route remaining in October: San Francisco to Shanghai.
- The airline has reduced the number of flights to and from China for several months, resulting in a decrease of over 15,000 seats in October alone.
United Airlines has made a significant number of changes to its China route network. In October, the airline was set to relaunch several routes to the Asian country, but that is no longer the case. The only Chinese route that remains on United’s schedule in October is from San Francisco to Shanghai.
Pushing back several relaunches to China
The COVID-19 pandemic temporarily destroyed the aviation industry worldwide, with thousands of aircraft grounded virtually overnight and millions of people losing their jobs. It goes without saying that China was one of the hardest-hit countries. Even today, after most of the aviation industry has nearly fully recovered from the effects of the pandemic, the United States - China market is nowhere near what it was in 2019.
Just weeks ago, the US announced it would allow increased flights to China, and a few airlines responded by announcing several route relaunches. United Airlines had big plans this fall, but according to recent schedule changes shown in Cirium, those plans have been altered significantly. Rather than relaunching several routes in October, United only has one China route on its schedule, from San Francisco International Airport to Shanghai.
Data shows that United had 122 flights scheduled to and from China in October as of last week. This week, that number is down to 62, equating to a reduction of 15,718 seats. October was not the only month affected in the latest update, as the changes go all the way through March 2024. Below is a breakdown of the changes:
As of this week
As of last week
The reason for the changes is unknown, and Simple Flying has contacted United Airlines for a statement. The airline did not reply in time for publication.
Breaking it down
As seen in the table above, United had the most significant amount of cuts in November and December, cutting more than 400 flights, leading to a reduction of 117,732 seats in November and another 114,562 in December.
According to data from last week, in October, United was going to relaunch flights from Newark to Beijing and Shanghai, from Washington Dulles to Beijing, from Los Angeles to Shanghai, from Chicago to Beijing and Shanghai, from San Francisco to Chengdu and Beijing. Only one of these routes will relaunch in November, from San Francisco to Beijing, meaning United will only have two China routes. In December, United will not resume any other China routes, operating well below its initially planned capacity across the Pacific.
By January, United was supposed to be operating almost all of its China routes daily and some twice daily. While most of the China routes will operate near that capacity for most of January, Chengdu will not launch until March.
Below is the breakdown of when United's remaining China routes will relaunch:
Date of launch.
As mentioned above, flights from San Francisco to Chengdu will launch in March, on the 31, with the Boeing 787-9s.
Are you planning on flying to China in the near future? If so, on what airline? Let us know in the comments below.
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Denver International Airport, Guam International Airport, Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport
- Year Founded:
- Star Alliance
- Scott Kirby
- United States