LONDON – Over the weekend, United Airlines (UA) has announced plans to resume services between San Francisco (SFO) and Shanghai (PVG). Commenting on the route launch was Patrick Quayle, UA’s Vice President of International Network and Alliances, who expressed the importance of the airline operating this route.
“United continues playing a critical role in keeping people and global supply chains connected to Shanghai and to cities around the world. We look forward to resuming nonstop service and offering our customers greater convenience and shorter flight times between San Francisco and Shanghai.”
The service will be very similar to that of the airline’s announcement back in August to double services between the two destinations. Services will begin on October 21 on a four times per week basis on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, using the carrier’s Boeing 777-300ER.
UA857 will depart SFO at 1150L, before arriving into PVG at 1630L the next day. The return, UA858 will depart at 1330L, before arriving into SFO at 0930L.
United Airlines was keen to note that the four times per week flight will no longer require stop and crew change in Seoul (ICN), showing positive news towards the route. This is what makes the route different compared to the announcement back in August.
The last two announcements regarding the San Francisco-Shanghai link are significant in terms of the boost it will give to the UA portfolio.
Back in February this year, the airline suspended operations due to the COVID-19 beginning to spread over the globe, having previously operated five daily flights between the destinations and hubs in SFO, Los Angeles (LAX), Chicago (ORD) and New York’s Newark (EWR).
This will also prove as good news politically for US-China relations, with President Donald Trump blaming China over the spreading of the virus. With flights previously suspended between the two countries, it will no doubt represent a positivity towards such relations.
The Demand Question
The next question will be what the demand will be like. This seems to be a common theme amongst airlines restarting services to destinations around the globe. For UA, this will prove to be very important, especially with the anti-China rhetoric from the U.S President over the virus, stemming potential fears that demand may be low initially for this route.
With that comes the question of viability of the route, and with the US election round the corner, it will be make or break for this vital airlink for the airline, and also the country.
It will no doubt be interesting to see how this route performs, and what level of success it will have, not just in the short-term, but also in the long-term as we aim to walk away from this pandemic as fast as possible.
Featured Image: United Airlines Boeing 777-300ER. Photo Credit: Luca Flores