CHICAGO, IL and BEIJING, China – Air China and United Airlines recently signed a multi-year agreement to strengthen their long-standing strategic partnership. In addition to the long-term extension of their agreement, Air China and United have established a joint strategic initiative that will significantly deepen coordination between the two airlines for the benefit of their customers in China and the United States.
Air China’s President, Song Zhiyong, said: “Both the United States and China are crucial for the international aviation market. I firmly believe that the strengthened partnership between United and Air China will provide better and more convenient services for the passengers in the joint Sino-U.S. market.”
Through the new initiative, Air China and United will work together to elevate their product offering to customers across the travel experience, including:
• Expanding connecting flight opportunities to further enhance their industry-leading joint network between China and the United States
• Creating a more seamless experience for customers when traveling through key gateway airports, such as Beijing and San Francisco
• Enhancing elite frequent flyer benefits for each other’s most loyal customers when traveling on the joint network
• Coordinating and expanding joint marketing and product-enhancement opportunities in both the United States and China
The new initiative will be led by senior executives from both carriers, who will meet regularly to coordinate new initiative rollouts, promote closer cultural integration between Air China and United, and prepare both companies for future joint opportunities.
United’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Oscar Munoz, said: “We are honored by the close partnership United and Air China have shared since 2003 and the positive difference it has made in the travel experience for both carriers’ customers. This agreement marks a significant milestone in our long-standing cooperation and further distinguishes United and Air China as the leading carriers between the U.S. and China.”
United currently serves three mainland China destinations nonstop from its premier Asia-Pacific gateway at San Francisco.
United will launch an additional nonstop service from San Francisco to its fourth destination in mainland China, Xi’an, on May 8, 2016 (westbound), and its fifth destination in mainland China, Hangzhou, on July 13, 2016 (westbound), subject to government approval.
Air China and United, both members of Star Alliance, currently operate the leading joint network between China and the United States, and together carried more than 2.7 million customers between the two countries in 2015. The carriers operate codeshare flights on 47 routes in China, 72 routes in the U.S. and Mexico, and 16 trans-Pacific nonstop routes between China and the United States.
United in China
United celebrated its 30th anniversary of service to mainland China in February 2016 and today serves Beijing with nonstop flights to and from Chicago, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington/Dulles; Shanghai with nonstop flights to and from Chicago, Guam, Los Angeles, New York/Newark and San Francisco; and Chengdu with nonstop flights to and from San Francisco. United will launch nonstop flights between San Francisco and Xi’an on May 8, 2016 and between San Francisco and Hangzhou on July 13, 2016 (both dates westbound), subject to government approval.
Air China in the United States
On Jan. 7, 1981, Air China launched the first scheduled trans-Pacific flight between the United States and China, from Beijing to New York. Today, through its main hub in Beijing, Air China provides nonstop services to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Washington Dulles, Honolulu, New York J.F.K. and Newark, subject to government approval. Air China will launch another nonstop flight to San Jose from Shanghai this summer and strengthen the capacity of its Beijing-San Francisco service in early August.