United Airlines has undergone substantial changes in its China route network, raising questions about the state of the US-China aviation market's recovery.
Initially planning to relaunch several routes to China in October, the airline has now revised its schedule dramatically.
The only remaining Chinese route in United's October schedule connects San Francisco to Shanghai.
Lasting Impact of the Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic sent shockwaves through the global aviation industry, grounding fleets, and leading to widespread layoffs.
While much of the aviation industry has made significant strides toward recovery, the US-China market remains a shadow of its pre-pandemic self.
Just weeks ago, the US government announced its intent to increase flight capacity to China.
In response, several airlines unveiled plans to relaunch routes to the country, and United Airlines was among them.
Coming as a rather controversial move, according to recent schedule changes documented by Cirium, United's grand plans for this fall have undergone substantial alterations.
Data reveals that United Airlines initially had 122 flights scheduled to and from China for October. However, this number has been slashed to 62 in the most recent update, resulting in a staggering reduction of 15,718 available seats.
These adjustments are not confined to October alone, but extend through March 2024.
The reasons behind these significant alterations remain unclear.
Affected routes include Newark to Beijing and Shanghai, Chicago to Beijing and Shanghai, Los Angeles to Shanghai, Washington Dulles to Beijing, and San Francisco to Chengdu.
These changes mark a significant delay to the airline's previously announced plans to expand its services to China.
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[Cover image by Billy Jiang/That's]