US-China market quadruples since 2006; Chinese carriers account for 60% of the 300+ weekly flights; 16 new routes in last two years
Non-stop air services between the world’s two busiest aviation markets, the US and China, have grown rapidly in recent years. Between 2006 and 2016 the number of seats on services between the two countries has grown almost fourfold from 1.2 million to almost 4.5 million. In eight of the last 10 years, capacity has increased by more than 10%, with growth surpassing 20% in 2014 and 2015. As a result, capacity has grown by an impressive 80% in just the last three years. In addition, the number of services offered by airlines has grown from 11 in August 2006 to 46 in August 2016 and 49 in October 2016.
The 49 services involve nine airlines (four US and five Chinese) operating across 13 US airports and 11 Chinese airports. The newest airline to connect the two global superpowers is Xiamen Airlines which began operating non-stop between Shenzhen and Seattle-Tacoma on 26 September.
United Airlines and Air China vie for #1 ranking
The leading airline in terms of weekly flights between the US and China is currently United Airlines with 65 weekly flights, just beating its Star Alliance partner Air China with 63. With a total of 128 weekly departures the Star Alliance carriers just beat the combined total of 115 from the SkyTeam carriers (China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Xiamen Airlines). The only oneworld carrier in the market is American Airlines which operates just 30 flights per week. United Airlines also leads the way with the most routes, 11. Of the 311 weekly connections between the two countries 188 (60%) are operated by the five Chinese airlines
The leading US airports for Chinese connections are San Francisco and Los Angeles in California, while New York JFK and Chicago O’Hare are fighting for third place. A total of 13 US airports have direct service to China. Notably missing from the list are Atlanta, the world’s busiest airport, Denver, and any airports in Florida. Las Vegas is another airport not currently featured, but Hainan Airlines recently announced that it would start a thrice-weekly service from Beijing to the gaming capital of the world at the beginning of December.
Beijing and Shanghai dominate
Although 11 Chinese airports have non-stop service to a US airport, only three of the airports have more than three flights per week. Beijing and Shanghai Pudong account for 83% of all flights to the US from China, with Guangzhou getting a further 10%.
16 new routes in the last two years
In the last two years the number of non-stop services offered has increased by almost 50% from 33 to 49. A summary of the 16 new routes launched in the last two years is provided in the following table. Exactly half of these new routes have been launched using the 787, a quarter using variants of the 777 and the remaining quarter using A330-series aircraft. Three-quarters of the routes have been launched by Chinese carriers, while just four routes have been launched by US airlines, two by United and one each by American Airlines and Delta.
|Launch||Airline||US airport||Chinese airport||Aircraft (WF)*|
|16 December 2014||China Southern Airlines||San Francisco (SFO)||Wuhan (WUH)||B788 (3)|
|7 May 2015||American Airlines||Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)||Beijing (PEK)||B772 (7)|
|15 June 2015||Hainan Airlines||San Jose (SJC)||B788 (5)|
|20 June 2015||Boston (BOS)||Shanghai (PVG)||B788 (3)|
|22 June 2015||Seattle-Tacoma (SEA)||A330 (4)|
|China Southern Airlines||San Francisco (SFO)||Guangzhou (CAN)||B787 (4)|
|30 June 2015||China Eastern Airlines||Los Angeles (LAX)||Nanjing (NKG)||A332 (3)|
|9 July 2015||Delta Air Lines||Shanghai (PVG)||B77L (7)|
|26 October 2015||Air China||New York Newark (EWR)||Beijing (PEK)||B773 (4)|
|21 January 2016||Hainan Airlines||Los Angeles (LAX)||Changsha (CSX)||B788 (2)|
|18 March 2016||China Eastern Airlines||Chicago (ORD)||Shanghai (PVG)||B773 (7)|
|8 May 2016||United Airlines||San Francisco (SFO)||Xi’an (XIY)||B788 (3)|
|13 July 2016||Hangzhou (HGH)||B789 (3)|
|1 September 2016||Air China||San Jose (SJC)||Shanghai (PVG)||A330 (3)|
|26 September 2016||Xiamen Airlines||Seattle-Tacoma (SEA)||Shenzhen (SZX)||B788 (3)|
|29 September 2016||China Eastern Airlines||San Francisco (SFO)||Qingdao (TAO)||A332 (3)|
|Source: anna.aero’s New Route Database. *Aircraft type and weekly frequency when launched.|